Peter Y. Levin is a partner in Griffin Gaming Partners, which invests in the game business, and chairman of Immortals, the big esports team with backers such as AEG, Meg Whitman and Michael Milken. Before all that, Levin was a founder of Nerdist, and former head of interactive for Lionsgate and Legendary, among much else. I talked with Peter about building the Metaverse, and how games such as Fortnite and Minecraft are helping us get there. We also talk opportunities in esports, mobile, marketing and educational content in games and much else. The real opportunity may be in building the Metaverse, which we're thinking about more and more as the pandemic forces us to spend more and more of our lives online in virtual environments.
I talked with Dan Weinstein, the head of Studio71, the big online-video distributor, about "blocking and tackling" during the pandemic, new opportunities in streaming, why the OTT industry is loving what's on Studio71's shelf, and what's up with Quibi. We also talked about just-launched trivia board game "Half Truth," created by Jeopardy star Ken Jennings and Magic the Gathering creator Richard Garfield, and the challenges the company is finding launching a game meant for groups of grownups at a time when the pandemic has turned our social lives upside down. .
I talked recently with comedian and long-time podcaster Duncan Trussell about his newest project, The Midnight Gospel, now available on Netflix. It's an extremely unlikely mashup of Trussell's deeply philosophical podcast conversations with some of the most interesting thinkers out there and the DayGlo animation of Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time, in collaboration with animation house Titmouse. Together, they've wrought a fascinating piece of work. As part of our conversation, Duncan and I talked about such relevant cultural touchstones as John McPhee's Annals of the Former World, N.K, Jemisin's Hugo-winning science fiction, Nick Park's Oscar-winning Creature Comforts, Ram Dass, Trudy Goodman, Roshi Joan Halifax, Anne Lamott, and, well, quite a few other things. The Midnight Gospel is a unique animated show, unlike anything else out there, and that's a good thing. Give a listen.
Facebook is seeing a flood of celebrities interested in creating video game content for their fans during the coronavirus lockdown, Phil Ranta, the company's head of gaming creators, told me last week. Our conversation also got into the new tournaments capabilities at Facebook, the potential for virtual reality, and how former UFC/WWE fighter Ronda Rousey and Kingslayer are bringing new approaches to a sector ready for innovation in viewing experiences. Because of that opportunity and the huge interest in esports and live-streaming amid the pandemic, it's a great time to jump into the sector, he told me.
This podcast is an excerpt from my conversation with Phil last week as part of Let's DEW Lunch, a new daily video webinar from tech-conference organizers Digital Entertainment World Expo. This week, I'll be doing a similar conversation with Dan Weinstein of Studio 71, the big online-video production and talent-management company. You can register for that at https://www.dewexpo.com.
Brent Weinstein is a partner and Chief Innovation Officer at one of Hollywood's biggest talent agencies, UTA. I interviewed Brent this week as part of the just-launched live-stream series Lets DEW Lunch, from the folks behind the Digital Entertainment World conference series. Brent has been closely involved in UTA's significant presence in technology and digital entertainment. Our conversation ranged widely, from esports to the new streaming services to celebrities launching their own social-media feeds to the long-term prospects for all those music live-streams, among much else. It's an extraordinary time in Hollywood, which already was undergoing wrenching changes even before the pandemic turned the business upside down. Check out our conversation, and if you get the chance, check out the Let's DEW Lunch conversations, which happen at mid-day (PST), and involve some high-profile executives from across the industry.
As big parts of the economy get hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, social-media influencers and creators have an opportunity to do well, reaching audiences stuck with little to do. But it's not the time for hype and huckstering. We need strategies to inform, entertain and most of all comfort each other during this extraordinary time. In this episode, I suggest a few areas that are set to do well, and some approaches to creating content that can make a difference for everyone. I also would love to hear from you about what you're doing to entertain, inform and comfort yourself. What shows are you watching/streaming? What other media are you using? What else are you doing? Send me an audio comment through Anchor, or contact me on Twitter @DavidBloom or on LinkedIn /davidlbloom. I'd love to hear from you, especially now, when normal human connection is so fraught and complicated. Be careful out there.
Influencer marketing is becoming a hot commodity these days, fueled in part by new data-privacy laws and Google's resulting decision to stop using cookies in its browser. That leaves social -media influencers and brand collaborations as a key way that companies can still extend their online presence while getting access to good audience data. That's just one of the lessons from my recent conversations with former long-time Nike marketing executive Drieke Leenknegt and CreatorIQ CEO and founder Igor Vaks.
Leenknegt and I did a fireside chat during the Influencer Marketing Conference and Expo in Los Angeles, and grabbed the separate conversation you'll hear on this episode. After 20 years with Nike in both marketing and operational roles in China, Europe and the United States, Leenknegt is now a Portland-based consultant helping brands do a better job telling their stories, both on their own and with influencers and other collaborators and creators.
And Vaks' Los Angeles-area company helps big brands such as Disney and Unilever run campaigns that may involve 30,000 influencers or more. He's seen influencer marketing evolve from something that was paid for out of the experimental part of a company's budget to becoming a central part of big, integrated marketing campaigns.
Bob Pittman ran MTV and AOL when it was cool to run them, and has since done a lot of other big media jobs. These days, he runs iHeart Media, the nation's biggest radio group, and its biggest podcast group. At this week's Podcast Movement Evolutions conference in Los Angeles, Pittman sat down with Conal Byrne, his top podcasting executive, to talk about the business. I have a little bit of material from Pittman's talk, and my own observations from the show and elsewhere in a deal-filled week for what's become a burgeoning business. Call it my meta-podcast, the podcast about podcasting.
Along the way this holiday weekend, I take a little detour to smell the roses, with my essay called The Stick and the Box, inspired by some conversations today that got me thinking about the ways dogs and kids have managed to find joy, and how the rest of us could benefit by spending more time finding our own gratitude.
Check it out, and let me know what you think on Twitter (@Davidbloom), LinkedIn (/davidlbloom), and through Anchor.fm's audio comment function. I'd love to hear what you think about the essay, about the future of podcasting, or about your own plans on the frontiers of audio content creation. Is it a fad, or will podcasting's fan base stick around and grow? Let me know your thoughts.
By the way, if you want to hear Pittman's own podcast Math & Magic; Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing, you can listen here.
Check out Supercast's approach to creating premium podcast options here.
Bill Curtis' CurtCo Media can be reached here.
Emi Norris' Paradiso, the Paris-based (with US operations) podcast production company, can be found here.
And if you want to hear Debra Chen's just-launched podcast, The Great Fail, listen here.
Quibi used the Oscars and a Super Bowl ad to kick off what it promises will be a massive marketing blitz ahead of the April 6 launch of the mobile streaming-video service. But with the Olympics, elections, and oh so much streaming-video competition (not least from all the Disney-owned networks advertising Oscar night on corporate cousin ABC ), will it be enough to help Quibi break through to success? I take a look at what Quibi's last few weeks, and its prospects ahead.
Hollywood's studios and TV networks used to exist in their own separate universes, with little crossover in on-screen talent, business models, or awards seasons. In the new era of Netflix and other subscription video services, such old-school differentiation no longer exists. For the same reason, those old-school awards seasons don't really exist anymore either. Here a few days before the big Oscar telecast, where Netflix has 24 nominations including two for Best Picture, I talk about why a streamer's work is never done.
We're about to see a flood of "deepfake" videos, which superimpose one person's face on another's body. Most of them will be fun and innocuous, thanks to new tools from social-media sites such as Snapchat and TikTok as well as stand-alone apps such as Zao, Doublicat and Morphin. Facebook and Instagram, meanwhile, are trying to crack down on the most abusive "manipulated media" images and video as part of a newly announced policy. But with a looming election, and an incumbent who has repeatedly shown willingness to spotlight fake material that attacks his opponents, this could be a long election season filled with dubious video. More importantly, are we sophisticated enough as video consumers to know when we're seeing deepfakes, especially ones that reinforce our own negative feelings toward a candidate? Buckle your seatbelts, dream babies. It's going to be a bumpy ride. Listen to my latest Bloom in Tech episode for more.
After high-profile launches in November, and early success with shows such as The Morning Show and The Mandalorian, new subscription streaming services Disney+ and Apple TV+ are now moving into new and uncertain territory. Subscribers may have seen the shows they wanted to see, and may be considering moving on. In this episode of Bloom in Tech, we talk about the Churn Zone, and what it means for Disney, Apple and other subscription video services launching this spring.
The NCAA's recent decision to allow college athletes to profit from their "name, image and likeness" is likely to unleash a deluge of athlete/influencers, with a long list of unanswered questions about what it's all going to mean for influencers, influencer marketing, advertisers and college sports. I get into some of the issues in the first part of this episode.
In part two, listen to the panel I moderated at the sprawling Digital Hollywood conference earlier this month on influencers and the influencer lifestyle. The discussion featured Shaine Griffin, Associate Commercials Strategist for SAG-AFTRA, organizing influencers; Bruna Nessif, Influencer and Author, “Let That Shit Go: A Journey to Forgiveness, Healing & Understanding Love” & founder, “The Problem With Dating;" Gregg Martin, Actor and content creator; Brendan Kane, Author of “One Million Followers;” and YiZhou, Influencer, actor, director & founder of Global Intuition. It's a great conversation for anyone interested in the future of influencers and influencer marketing, and some of the tools influencers are using to become a success. Give it a lesson.
Claire Wineland became a popular YouTube influencer talking about the thing that ultimately killed her, cystic fibrosis. But she also became popular because she talked about so much more than just CF, living a remarkable life and teaching us repeatedly that we need to pursue something bigger than ourselves, no matter the challenges life dumps in our lap. I talked with Nicholas Reed about Claire Wineland and "Claire," the YouTube Original documentary he co-directed (You can read my Tubefilter column about "Claire" here, and watch the doc for free on YouTube here). "Claire" has already received nearly 1.4 million views since its Sept. 2 release, and it's worth the watch. In the meantime, Nick and I talk about the lessons we all need to learn from Claire's example. Give a listen.
My East Coast trip last week included a stop at the Future of TV conference, where I sat down with Viacom SVP Christian Kurz to talk about their new report, Power in Progress, and to moderate a panel of marketing and biz-dev executives on how to get and keep subscribers.
The Power in Progress report looks at the ways traditional power structures are changing and having to adapt to newly powerful movements such as the March for Our Live, #MeToo, the Hong Kong protests, France's Gillets Jaune, and more. Just as importantly, it talks about ways that brands, and Viacom itself, can find new roles in working with and speaking to the young generations who are driving so many of these new power centers. The report details a series of are lots of ways brands can find a way to connect with and
The panel, meanwhile, talks about strategies for smaller VOD services to make themselves invaluable to their fans, and to find ways to succeed despite competition from more than 300 other services, including big new competitors from Apple, Disney, Comcast, AT&T, and others. Even if you're in marketing for other kinds of entertainment, or just about any other product (think niche consumer packaged goods), there are tips and approaches of value for you. Give a listen.
With one simple word, Apple may have unleashed a path to a huge user base for TV+, the streaming service it plans to launch Nov. 1. That word: free. The impact, possibly 100 million or more subscribers. During the first part of this episode of Bloom in Tech, I'll give you my reasoning for this possibly game-changing deal here near the start of the Streaming Wars.
For the show's second half, I sat down recently with Mike Keyserling, chief operating officer for Philo, which offers 58 channels of TV networks you probably like a lot, at a price you'll almost certainly like even more. Philo is one of several so-called skinny bundles jostling for the subscription dollars of cord cutters looking to get off traditional cable, while still getting most of the channels they like watching there. Mike and I talked about what makes Philo different, building your own pay-TV bundle in the streaming age, and why college campuses have been an ideal testing ground for the service's development the past several years. Give a listen.
Apple's big week of announcements included some bargain prices on its new TV+ and Arcade video- and game-streaming services. In turn, I suggest that may be a source of headaches for competitors such as HBO Max and Quibi.. As well, last week I moderated a panel of executives from several smaller online video services (Condé Nast Entertainment, Whistle, Ellation, and College Humor's Dropout). We talked about what companies such as theirs need to do to thrive amid all the new big-name competitors. One big hint: be everywhere. And I talk about how. The next few months will see the business of online video move to a very different new level.
The Worldz conference starts this week, or at least the biggest expression of what's a year-round experience called Worldz, and a related professional network called PTTOW! (it's their exclamation point, not mine). The mothership launches Tuesday, Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, an unusual mix of marketing conference, self improvement, conscious capitalism, world-changing tech prognostication and more. It packs a ton of highly intimate conversations between about 2,500 attendees and maybe 250 "masters" and "titans," top-dog talkers from companies such as Mastercard, Hyundai, Estee Lauder, IHeartMedia, Vans, Marvel, T-Mobile, and Facebook. To learn more about Worldz, I connected with founder Roman Tsunder and Samantha "Sammie" Rabstein, the conference's senior director of programming. It's a conference, and really a year-round experience, I strongly endorse that you take advantage of, if you can. In the meantime, listen to my conversation with Sammie and Roman here. Some good stuff.
After winning four Oscars last year, Netflix is betting even bigger this year with special theatrical runs and awards handling for a whopping 10 films. Martin Scorsese's pricey mob picture, The Irishman, might be the most expensive bet, but there are plenty of other contenders in the Netflix portfolio, including films from Steven Soderbergh, David Michod, Fernando Meirelles, and Noah Baumbach, featuring a large truckload of Oscar-winning actors. Netflix is giving all these prominent films a longer exclusive run in theaters (usually, films just appear on Netflix, like everything else). But this year, with more competition coming and stalled-out subscriber numbers, the stakes are bigger than ever for Netflix this Oscar season. We'll have plenty to watch for beyond just a batch of extremely promising movies.
Ken Jennings made a name as the No. 2-winningest player on Jeopardy, while Richard Garfield was the creator of Magic the Gathering, one of the most successful card games ever. Now they've teamed up for a new trivia game called Half Truth, designed to be a lot more accessible to an audience far beyond the usual trivia traffickers. I talked with Jennings and Garfield before their game's Kickstarter launch this week to talk about how you make a game for non-trivia players, the history of trivia, why use Kickstarter, and more. Give a listen.
A flurry of deals and deal-related news this week, led by the Viacom-CBS merger's long-anticipated merger and Verizon's dumping of former social-media giant Tumblr got me thinking about what it all means for the tech-centric entertainment world we're entering. I also have lots to say about a deal that didn't happen, Facebook's acquisition of Houseparty., among other hijinks at the social-media giant. Can ViacomCBS survive even as a combined standalone unit? Is Tumblr really only worth $3 million? And could the fear of antitrust keep Facebook on some sort of straight and narrow path away from jerkdom? Give a listen, then share your thoughts through Anchor.fm's audio comment function, or send me a Tweet and LinkedIn message.
Ninja (Tyler Blevins) has been the best-known star in the booming business of live-streaming online about games. Until the first week of August, he did that for Amazon-owned Twitch. Then he turned the business of live-streaming upside down when he announced he would jump to Microsoft's Mixer service, which has been in fourth place among game streaming services. The move has lots of implications, and I talk about them on this episode of Bloom in Tech. Give a listen.
Netflix had a bad couple of weeks, for several reasons. In this episode of Bloom in Tech, I talk about the implications of Netflix's stumbles, and what it means for the looming streaming-video wars. And as all that was going on, I sat down onstage at the OTT_X Conference in Los Angeles to talk with Adam Lewinson, the Chief Content Officer for Tubi, the biggest of the ad-supported video-on-demand services out there. AVOD services such as Tubi have a very different set of challenges and user expectations than do the subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and CBS All Access. We talk about why, and where Tubi is headed. Give a listen.
Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey have been running World of Wonder, their Hollywood-based TV production company, for nearly three decades. For the past 10 years, World of Wonder has produced RuPaul's Drag Race, featuring perhaps the best-known drag queen ever. The show's format has now been copied into local versions in several additional countries, just one of the ways Barbato and Bailey have diversified, survived and thrived in an era increasingly hostile to independents. In my conversation onstage with Barbato and Bailey at the recent VidCon in Anaheim, they talk about opening a retail store on Hollywood Boulevard, launching DragCon events in New York and Los Angeles, creating a social-media powerhouse, nurturing outsider creative talents, getting into long-form documentaries, and turning those docs into scripted programming. It is indeed a wondrous world for World of Wonder. Give a listen.
Joey Graceffa has spent a decade as one of the most influential of online influencers, with more than 1.9 billion views of his YouTube videos by more than 9 million subscribers, along with a big footprint on Instagram and Twitter. I sat down with Joey at VidCon, the big influencer convention that just concluded in Anaheim, to talk about his long-running YouTube Premium show, Escape the Night, his fixation on escape rooms, and his desire to turn his trio of dystopian YA novels into a movie, but without him as director. How refreshing. Give a listen.
During the recent E3 game conference, I sat down onstage with Zach Wigal, the founder of Gamers Outreach, which provides games and video game equipment for kids stuck in hospitals facing long-term care for serious and life-threatening conditions. It was one of four panels I did as part of the E3 Esports Zone, run by Subnation, and a series of partners and sponsors. We were on the Content Stage and also had our conversations streamed live across the web. Just in case you missed all of that, here's my conversation with Zach about helping kids facing serious illness with the therapeutic escape of video games. They do good work. Maybe you can find a way to support them as well. In the meantime, many thanks to Subnation, E3, and their partners for the opportunity to take part in this and several other great conversations.
I've been gone for a little while, undergoing a huge move that's left me without virtually any of the traditional physical media that I've gathered over many years. That's all great. But as I and millions of others go full KonMari, are we giving up some crucial ways to signal to others around us the culture, books, music, film, TV that matter to us? This is a quick episode, just some thinking stimulated by days and days of getting rid of much of my physical belongings, and tipping into a headlong embrace of the digitally based life I already have been in and around years. Give it a listen, and let me know what you think. You can leave an audio message through Anchor.fm's tools around this podcast. Please rate, review and share the episode if you like what you hear. And if you really like what you hear, you can become a supporter of it through Anchor.fm, throwing a few bucks in the kitty.
At the recent E3 video game conference, I sat down with Victor Pool and Ruben den Boer, the Dutch duo behind the electronic dance music act Vicetone. They grew up in small Dutch towns, spent time in Amsterdam, New York and Los Angeles, but even as they started creating more EDM hits, they yearned for a quieter place to live. The answer: two years ago, they moved to Nashville, found a house and set up a production studio. And it seems to be working out.
When we talked, their single “Something Strange” was doing something strange.: Six months after its November release, the single finally hit No. 1 on Sirius-XM’s BPM channel, while their latest single, ‘Waiting,” had just been released. They were about to fly to Tokyo to start a six-country, three-week tour across Asia.
The duo are big gamers, and took in all the new video games on display at E3. But they were at E3 because they were performing at the opening-night party sponsored by Subnation, which created three days of esports-related events in partnership with the E3 conference. As part of all that, I moderated several panels at the E3 Esports Zone. When I get the chance, I’ll share some of those conversations here on Bloom in Tech in subsequent episodes.
In this episode, Victor and Ruben talk about their love of video games, being a Dutch dance-music duo in the country music capital, finding collaborators on Spotify, and maybe doing a K-Pop crossover song, Give a listen.
Long-time pals Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas sat down together at the recent Produced By conference on the Warner Bros. studio lot to talk about, well, a lot. They met when Douglas was still in college in Santa Barbara, and have worked together as actors, producers, directors and friends for half a century since. In this conversation, they talked about making the Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Taxi, Streets of San Francisco, The Kominsky Method, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Romancing the Stone and so much else. Along the way, they have some great advice for producers and would-be producers of film and TV, and some thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of the streaming-video era, and what Quibi means. It's funny, fond, occasionally Falstaff-ian and a downright entertaining conversation. Give a listen.
Mindy Kaling made a splash as an actress in The Office and The Mindy Project and just released Late Night, an Amazon Studios feature that she wrote, directed, produced and stars in. Nancy Meyers started as the writer of such films as Private Benjamin and Irreconcilable Differences, then became a director and producer, known for iconic rom-coms such as Something's Got to Give and It's Complicated. The two sat down together at the recent Produced By conference to talk about being multi-hyphenate female creators in Hollywood, with all the challenges, experiences and opportunities that have unfolded since.
This weekend's Produced By conference, hosted by the Producers Guild of America, was a good chance to sit down with Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher, the presidents of the organization, to talk about creating TV shows, films and streaming programming in a Hollywood that's been turned upside down by technological change. Berman, who headed both Fox TV's entertainment division and Paramount Pictures, and FIsher, former vice chairman of Sony's Columbia Pictures Group, are among the most prominent producers out there, each working on projects for traditional outlets, new streamers, even a movie based on podcasts. And the conference they're presiding over will touch on many of these changes and much else. You can also read my Forbes piece about the interview.
The announcements were coming fast and furious at Monday's opening session of Apple's World Wide Developers Conference, but the stuff that caught my attention was perhaps a little more subtle: Apple is trying to get us old-school computer-wielding types to move away from the increasingly problematic World Wide Web, with its trackers and data violations, to an app-based universe that looks a lot more like its iOS mobile universe. Give a listen, then take advantage of Anchor's audio comment button to let me know what you think, and what you thought was most interesting from Monday's presentations. There was lots to chew on, especially that smoking hot Mac Pro, which ought to have Hollywood's video editors, visual-effects specialists, VR creators and others really excited. But trust me, for everyone else, an app-y place can be a happy place. Give a listen.
Plenty of people have heard about crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which make it easy for fans to back f creative and technology projects, among others. And more recently, we’ve seen companies tap the SEC’s newer Regulation A process to sell shares of stock to, particularly, fans of smaller ventures that aren't yet on the major stock exchanges.
CrowdStreet uses some of the familiar crowdfunding tools and approaches, but targets a much higher level of backers, namely so-called "accredited investors" who might want a piece of one of the biggest asset classes out there, commercial real estate. I sat down with CrowdStreet CEO Tore C. Steen to talk about how the six-year-old company is using an online process and crowdfunding to streamline and open up investing in commercial real estate. The segue from KickStarter to CrowdStreet isn’t an obvious one, but the opportunities are just as big, the beneficiaries just as unexpected. Give it a listen.
This week, I moderated a panel on work and mental health for Soul Pancake's "Four Conversations About One Thing," a series of discussions tied to Mental Health Awareness Month. My panelists included actor Romany Malco (A Million Little Things, Weeds), Internet and radio star Shira Lazar, Quibi head of people operations Denise Jackson and Dr. Habib Sadeghi. This podcast, I talk about dealing with burnout, a huge issue for online influencers especially, and a discussion that comes just as the World Health Organization has officially added work-related "burn-out" to its handbook of recognized illnesses and conditions. Separately, I speak with Dr. Sadeghi about some of his prescriptions for building a more balanced and centered life amid all the challenges we face out there in this fractured digital age. If you're in tech or entertainment, or really any high-pressure business, there's lots here worth checking out. Give it a listen.
This week, I spent a day at the semi-annual Digital Hollywood conference, in part reconnecting with friends and business associates. After moderating a truly great panel of thoughtful people in influencer marketing (you can watch the panel here; scroll to about the 1-hour mark in the day-long video to get to my panel),
I also got a chance to watch a panel featuring the Italian astrophysicist and musician Dr. Fiorella Terenzi, then I sat down separately with her to talk about "Let's Get Astrophysical," the class she teaches at Florida International University and at California State University - Channel Islands.
The class combines traditional astronomy with creative expressions such as music, art, fashion and dance, along with some wisdom on being entrepreneurial, and even some Internet etiquette. As part of the class, the students create what Terenzi calls a space opera, "Tommy" for the spheres. Terenzi has been crossing between hard sciences and the humanities for decades, dating back to a 1987 album for Island Records that used radio frequencies generated by stars and galaxies to create music. Now, besides her teaching, Terenzi is working on a new virtual-reality project that incorporates all five senses. Guess what Mars smells like?
I caught up with Brian Solis, the long-time "digital anthropologist" and speaker on influencer marketing, at this week's Open Influence Summit in Los Angeles (where I also moderated a panel featuring Open Influence CEO Eric Dahan, Casting Influence CEO Tanya Bershadsky and Ensemble Digital Studios Founder Larry Shapiro). The summit was focused on influencer marketing, and that dominated Solis' keynote conversation with Dahan. But he also talked with me about his new book, Life Scale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life. It's the result of Solis' own journey over the past year or so, dealing with a loss of focus, productivity and ease, thanks to his frenetic relationship with digital technology that he's been studying since the mid-1990s. The conference was good, my panel better and my conversation with Solis most interesting of all. Give it a listen.
Actor and activist Edward James Olmos has created a string of iconic roles over the past 45 years, including in 'Battlestar Galactica,' 'Zoot Suit,' 'Bladerunner,' 'Miami Vice,' and 'Stand and Deliver.' My partner Andrea Vaucher and I caught up with Olmos last month at the Panama International Film Festival, at festival headquarters in the Central Hotel in the Casco Viejo, the oldest area of 500-year-old Panama City, Panama.
Olmos at the festival for a 30th anniversary screening of 'Stand and Deliver,' the biopic about East Los Angeles high school math teacher Jaime Escalante. His portrayal of Escalante brought Olmos his first Academy Award nomination, though, as Olmos tells it, cobbling together the funds to get "Stand" made was one of the more unusual film finance stories ever. Olmos also introduced the festival's closing-night film, 'The Sentence,' a documentary about controversial drug-conspiracy laws in the United States.
He also talked about why 'Battlestar Galactica' remains important, a decade after its last episode, as it dealt with some of the most meaningful issues ever in a television show. Other topics include what it was like growing up in wildly diverse East L.A. after WWII, how Olmos tried, repeatedly, to turn down the role of Lt. Castillo in 'Miami Vice.' and why he takes on roles to make a difference in his own growth and that of his community. Give a listen.
In the category of good riddance, Instagram is experimenting with getting rid of one of its least useful metrics, the Like. I talk with Beca Alexander, President of long-time influencer-management and brand consultant Socialyte to understand more about what it means. But as far as I'm concerned, losing the like gives us a chance to move beyond the high school era of social media. In this episode, I also promise to link you to a great Medium piece on the downside of all those millions of dollars that investors put into online-media companies, and how it suckered them into giving away expensive content for free. The story can be found here, I recommend it for those who care about why hot online outlets such as Buzzfeed and Vice keep having to lay off people even amid all their perceived, well, buzz. You can read my Tubefilter column on Instagram and likes here. Perhaps less surprisingly, I recommend that too. But give this podcast a listen. My conversation with Beca covers a lot of the changes in what matters to brands in dealing with influencers on the red-hot Instagram platform. If you're in business, or advising businesses, that are on Instagram, you should take in the wisdom here.
The movie 'Alien' turned 40 last week, and to celebrate, Fox partnered with the creator platform Tongal to find six young filmmakers to create short video projects around the iconic film franchise. The results have been popping up the last few weeks, and on May 3, arrive on AlienUniverse.com and social media (under the handle @AlienAnthology) for further viewing. I talked with Tongal founder and CEO James DeJulio about how his decade-old Santa Monica-based company surfaced hundreds of proposals for the six Alien films through a community of 170,000 creators. In all, he said, more than 1,000 of those creators had a part in creating one or another of the shorts. Tongal and platforms like it are one way brands and agencies are tapping into new creators and creative ideas at a time when the demand for content and options for marketing and distribution is ever-accelerating.
I talked with actor/writer/director Emilio Estevez about his latest film, 'The Public,' set in a Cincinnati library during a brutal cold snap. The librarians are thrust into the roles of first responders and social workers, helping the homeless who come there for shelter. And on this lethally cold night, the homeless refuse to leave at closing time, leading to a confrontation with police. Estevez produced, directed, wrote and stars in the film, alongside a great cast. And the project came about after Estevez learned of the challenges libraries and librarians face these days, and not just from technological change. Estevez and I were joined in our conversation by Rich Hull, CEO of Pongalo, the Spanish-language video service that partly backed the film. There's lots to talk about when it comes to libraries and their importance as one of the basic building blocks in democracy. Give a listen.
We're finally seeing some of the cards being played by some of the big players in this poker game known as the streaming-video wars. Disney+ showed a lot of its hand last week, and Apple sort of showed its plans a couple of weeks earlier. Meanwhile, Netflix continues add millions of subscribers around the globe and is actually running a functioning, highly optimized business. Disney+ almost certainly will be successful in the long term, but I suspect they'll be losing quite a bit of money in the short term. I explain why here. Give it a listen.
Even hanging for a few days at Las Olas Resort in western Panama, one thing was pretty obvious to me about Snap's week of big news: they've only just begun to dig out the big hole Evan Spiegel and the rest of his team constructed for themselves. Yes, the company has new original shows, multiplayer games, an ad network, a much-improved Android app, some very interesting partnerships in the U.S. and abroad and more. But boy, none of this stuff is easy, and Snap has some pretty intimidating challengers, including some newer faces. In my latest podcast, recorded next to a fabulous beach in Playa La Barqueta, I talk about what's ahead for Snapchat. Give it a listen and let me know what you think of Snap's prospects. Are you willing to invest? Think it's crazy to put money into companies controlled by their CEOs? let me know on Twitter @DavidBloom or on LinkedIn at /davidlbloom. As always, like, rate and share if you think this is good for your pals to listen to as well. I'll have some more stuff from Panama, including conversations with Edward James Olmos, the Sundance Institute and the former head of the Sundance Channel all still to come.
A suit in federal court is challenging whether Donald Trump, as the most Twitter-reliant president yet, can legally block people from his feed. At the same time, Twitter may start flagging Trump posts that violate its policies, and adding notes to explain why. All this conversation prompts a question about what social media would be like if we all had to take responsibility for the stuff we post on social media, and what the Internet might be like. Give a listen, then let me know what you think.
Apple made a lot of big announcements this week, many of which sounded a lot like what Amazon is doing in games, reading material and video, alongside their rather similar music and audio initiatives. Just as importantly, the Apple-Amazon approach strongly contrasts with the data-milking approach of Facebook and Google, a point that Tim Cook subtly made throughout Monday's presentations.
Critical. Role started as a group of actor pals playing Dungeons & Dragons while a camera rolled on Twitch and YouTube. That unlikely start has become a huge Kickstarter hit, raising $7.7 million and counting to create an animated series called "The Legend of Vox Machina," based on the story lines and characters of the long-running games. I sat down with Sam Riegel and Travis Willingham, two leaders of Critical Role, to talk about O.G. D&D (that's me), creating an unlikely cross-platform media machine, and what they're going to do with all that loot to make a great animated series that will run....somewhere. C'mon, roll the dice. Give it a listen.
Mark Zuckerberg wants people to believe Facebook is pivoting toward privacy. It's not, and I explain why. More importantly, however, social media as we know it is undergoing significant shifts to new paradigms that put Amazon in a particularly advantageous place, and may hinder the power of Facebook and Google going forward. My latest Bloom in Tech episode explains what's happening and where we're headed. Give it a listen.
The business of sports online is taking off, with lots of venture capital coming to numerous sites and AT&T making a big statement by centralizing all its sports operations under CNN chief Jeff Zucker. I also sat down with Conde Nast Entertainment Studios EVP Alexander Edgington to talk about their new Netflix sports-related documentary series, "Cricket Fever," about India's biggest cricket tournament. It's an important effort by Conde' Nast and Netflix to grab some attention in the vast and complex Indian market. Al talks with me about what it all means in the second part of this episode
Netflix spent heavily during this awards season, but didn't snag the biggest prize of all, the Best Picture Oscar. But it still ended up a big winner, grabbing multiple other Oscars and winning useful credibility with both its subscribers and Hollywood's great auteurs. I explain why in this episode of Bloom in Tech.
Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi joined me during Oscar Week on Bloom in Tech to talk about the big theater chain's new ventures in virtual reality with Spaces and The Void, its esports venture with Super League Gaming, large-format screens, new projection technologies, better food, better seats and a whole lot of other changes arriving in the very old-school business of putting a movie on a screen.
The No. 3 U.S. theater chain is also the largest in South and Central America. Zoradi, a long-time Disney veteran, is trying to steer the company forward at a time when teens love their mobile phones, Instagram, YouTube and Netflix. Give our conversation a listen.
Amid all the art and craziness of Frieze LA and seeming countless satellite fairs, openings and events, I was most intrigued by a panel at Neuehouse Hollywood featuring director and "Transparent" creator Jill Soloway and conceptual artist Jill Magid, herself now a director of the upcoming Oscilloscope Laboratories feature documentary, 'The Proposal." The Jills ranged widely, from the joys of directing, to the challenges of gender and work, to the ways Magid pokes at and interacts with police, intelligence and other organizations that create limits and structures. It's a fascinating conversation between, on one side, a creator focused on breaking down boundaries and creating spaces for marginalized people, and on the other, a creator focused on engaging with and interrogating the many boundaries that limit and structure our lives.
I hosted a great panel on the future of content marketing at this week's Digital Entertainment World conference in Los Angeles, with top executives with Twitch, Fandango, Machinima and CreatorIQ. Content marketing can include everything from movie trailers to live events to influencer partnerships to what the video game Fortnite did last week with EDM star Marshmello. And as the contest for audience attention gets tougher and tougher, more brands are opting for content marketing as a way to reach engaged, highly targeted audiences. Give a listen to what some of the best in the business are doing in this burgeoning field.
Late January is the dog days of Hollywood's long, expensive awards season. Smaller events unfurl several times a week, and every win becomes a chance to further handicap the Oscar chances for major contenders. This past week, the Final Draft Awards honored Callie Khouri, who wrote "Thelma & Louise" and created the "Nashville" TV series with its Hall of Fame Award.
The next night, the Lumiere Awards unspooled a few miles away, on the lot of a different movie studio, and handed out a lot more statues. And there, Tom Cruise surprised even the man being honored, the writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, who is his long-time collaborator. I talked with Khouri and captured Cruise and McQuarrie all talking about the joys and challenges of making movies for this episode of Bloom in Tech. Give a listen.
Adrian Gonzalez has had a long and distinguished career as an All Star first baseman for the L.A. Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. Now he's taking a swing at another kind of game, creating fan-friendly custom apps that connect (for now) baseball stars and their fans directly, instead of through social media or their teams' online presences. PopFly XP is debuting apps for Gonzalez and former Dodgers' teammate Justin Turner, trying to create new ways for baseball stars to connect, sell custom merchandise and build new kinds of businesses. I talk with Gonzalez and PopFly's CEO, former Dodger partnerships executive Jesse Nunez, about what they're trying to accomplish.
Netflix has spent heavily this awards season on several films, part of a strategy to differentiate it from competing media companies that soon will have their own video-streaming services. The strategy paid off big time with today's announcements of Oscar nominations; Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' grabbed 10, tied for the most of any film and the first film from a streaming service to get a Best Picture nomination. I talk about what it all means. Give a listen.
Companies such as EscapeX, Whalerock Industries and Beachfront have standalone apps that help big influencers generate more money from their most devoted fans. What are the opportunities here? I talked with the CEOs of EscapeX and Beachfront, and CreatorIQ COO Tim Sovay about the possibilities and challenges in helping influencers move beyond their dependence on social-media platforms when connecting with their super fans. Give it a listen.
I talked recently with two top NBCUniversal executives about Blueprint, their revamped hobbyist learning site, which combines lessons in nearly dozen categories with lean-back content, community, e-commerce operations and a healthy dose of celebrities and influencers. The site, now a subscription video-on-demand operation, is busy cross-pollinating with other parts of NBCU, and will be the basis for extending e-commerce functions throughout many parts of the media giant, the executives told me. It's a smart and provocative vision of the future of SVOD video sites and one I expect Amazon and others will be copying soon enough. You heard it here first. Give it a listen, won't you?
Over the holidays, Netflix debuted its biggest ever hit and an intriguing interactive experiment, picked up multiple Golden Globes, saved hundreds of millions of dollars and hired a CFO. It faces more competition than ever in 2019, but I talk about how these various initiatives are helping the company evolve and succeed in the face of all those deep-pocketed challengers. Give it a listen.
Influencer marketing was bigger than ever in 2018, despite a string of scandals hitting some of the major platforms. I talked with several top influencer-marketing agencies, data companies and consultants – including CreatorIQ, Tubular Labs, Pex, WhoSay and Michelle Merino – about what trends are shaping the industry as we move into 2019. Give it a listen.
In this episode, I look at a string of virtual-reality projects, technologies and venues that have arrived in Los Angeles recently, as the bad mojo of 2017 has evolved into a promising industry again in 2018. I also talk with Bruce Vaughn, the former Disney Imagineer and current CEO of Dreamscape Immersive, the Steven Spielberg-backed company creating story-driven VR experiences such as "Alien Zoo." Dreamscape just opened its first permanent venue in an upscale Los Angeles mall. This episode is not quite a year-end retrospective, despite the timing, so much as a rundown of cool stuff I've seen the last several months, in an industry that's finally starting to look sustainable, and fascinating. Give a listen.
Two media companies went away, and most of another is buying bought for parts. #MeToo and tech giants continued to reshape the physical, fiscal and emotional landscape of Hollywood, with much more to come in 2019. I take a look back at the notable changes and shifts. What's your pick for biggest changes of 2018? What's coming next year? Give a listen.
To keep showing the 25-year-old TV series 'Friends' for another year, Netflix agreed to pay WarnerMedia $100 million for one year. Crazy as it sounds, that could be a good deal for the streaming giant. I explain why in this episode. Give it a listen, won't you?
Nov. 27 is Giving Tuesday, when hundreds of non-profits in 55 countries get a chance to double the value of donations with matching funds. It's also the day that NewsMatch holds what it now calls Giving Newsday, with $3 million in matching foundation funds to augment donations to 155 non-profit news organizations (donations made through the end of the year will be matched). The non-profits – generally doing in-depth investigative work that for-profits no longer can afford – range from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pro Publica to magazines such as Mother Jones and Washington Monthly, to Public Radio International and tiny operations in Wyoming, Hawaii and North Dakota. I talked with Pro Publica's president and a top exec at Giving Tuesday's founding organization, 92Y, about giving instead of just buying. 'Tis the season. Give a listen, won't you?
Esports are growing fast, for a lot of reasons. This weekend's DreamHack Atlanta festival shows some of those reasons why, partnering with Subnation and big brands such as Red Hat and Twitch to bring music, art, experiential activations, street culture and more to the gamer championships. It turns a tournament into an experience. I also talk about (and share a recording of) this week's esports panel at the VRTL Summit held at the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood, featuring top esports executives such as the commissioner of Activision-Blizzard's Overwatch League. There's lots happening here. Give a listen.
The race for primacy the streaming video business is getting more and more crowded, and the basis for deciding who has "won" is ripe for a rewrite. Can CBS All Access outrun HBO, which needs to compete against numerous corporate siblings for viewers, all while Disney, Apple, Walmart and others join the fray? What matters most? Subscribers? Revenues? Profits? It's the bear chasing the business.
Amid all his complaints, criticism and even craziness, Donald Trump's attacks on the media have hardly hurt the beast. Instead, many major media companies are reporting rising profits, revenues, subscribers and viewers. Is Trump's constant three-ring circus actually raising the value of the media companies he professes to hate, and making engaged audiences more willing to pay for authoritative news sources they can trust? My Election Eve pondering suggests it just may be so. What do you think? Let me know.
The head of the nation's largest group of local TV stations, CEO Chris Ripley of Sinclair Broadcast Group, took the stage at the recent NAB NY conference to talk about how ATSC 3.0 will supercharge local broadcasting; the "antiquated" TV viewing experience; what the company might try to buy next; how Sinclair hopes to STIRR the streaming video pot; why the Tennis Channel is perfectly positioned for a sports gambling future; and why Sinclair won't compete directly in the "sea of blood" with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other tech giants. His interviewer, Rick Howe, dodged some juicy subjects, but there's plenty here from one of the most influential people in the broadcasting business. Give a listen.
Last night's Streamy Awards say the smart video series "73 Questions" recognized for its cinematography (it's one long take where 73 questions are lobbed at a celebrity). In accepting the award, both series creator Joe Sabian and producer Marina Cukeric gave a shoutout to their director of photography Vincent Peone. I interviewed Peone exactly 11 months ago about "73 Questions" and his work as a director, both in commercials for Big Block, and for other projects of many kinds. When I posted the episode originally, it was only one service, SoundCloud, and now is on 10, thanks to Anchor's syndication. Give a listen. He's an interesting guy and now "73 Questions" is a Streamy winner, which is pretty cool.
Snap's been in the news a lot lately, not all of it for good, but for plenty of good reasons. Some are saying the Snapchat parent is ripe for buyout, perhaps by Amazon, which just did a partnership for in-app product information with Snap. But there are some positives for the struggling company too. One of those is a still huge and loyal audience of Millennials and Gen Z fans, who keep attracting the interest of media companies. I also talk in this podcast with Ocean MacAdams, President of Thrillist, which just launched a travel channel on Snapchat. He still sees lots of positives about Snapchat. Let me know what you think. Should Snap stay independent, or look for a buyer as its stock price keeps falling?
On the day Apple rolls out its next generation of cellphones, I offer some thoughts on where mobile is heading, fast. Apple's new smartphones are bigger than ever, and highly capable. It's a major signpost of where we're heading, with phones that can do pretty much anything a low-end computer can do, and then some. But it's not just Apple driving this direction, and it's not just big screens. At last week's Mobile World Congress Americas, the super-fast next-generation network technologies being rolled out in the United States and elsewhere around the world. Who are the companies that will take advantage of these new technologies to create transformative new experiences in games, augmented reality and many other areas? Let me know your thoughts.
In this episode, I talk with Julia Maes, executive producer of VIdCon, the huge annual gathering of online influencers. The Viacom-owned company just moved dates for its Anaheim show, avoiding conflicts with the huge Cannes Lions advertiser gathering, and also announced a new London spinoff show for European creators. VidCon has become an essential gathering for creators, their hordes of enthusiastic fans, and the brands and platforms behind the resulting huge social-media influencer-marketing ecosystem. Give it a listen and then get thee to Anaheim next July.
Influencer marketing is big these days, but so too is follower fraud, as people try to game the system to make more money from brands. It's a fast-changing business and now we're starting to see some tools to fight the fraud.
This past week, I wrote about a white paper from CreatorIQ and Fullscreen about how they're spotting possible fakes (Read it here - http://ht.ly/Y50V30lJVnw).
I also sat down with James Creech, CEO of Paladin Software. Like CreatorIQ, though with a somewhat different customer focus, Paladin works with brands on influencer deals, and helps them get what they've paid for in sponsorship deals. Give a listen.
Fortnite is the world's most popular videogame, raking in $300 million a month selling digital goods. At the same time, Fortnite is transforming the industry with cross-platform play, a stiff-arm to Google Play and a big push in support of hardcore mobile gaming. The big question now is how do brands take advantage? I chatted with Seven Volpone, an esports industry veteran and founder of Subnation, which connects brands with gamer lifestyle and culture. With Fortnite about to begin regular esports tournaments, Volpone says now's the time for brands to hop aboard the Battle Bus headed to Anarchy Acres.
I talked with "Jackass" alum/survivor Steve-O, who headlines the first two episodes of a new virtual-reality show produced by pal Sam Macaroni's production company, focused on some of the best VR experiences out there, and some of Steve-O's legendarily self-destructive attempts to recreate some of the VR bits highlighted in the show.
After time on the London stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Alexis Denisof made his name in the United States initially as Wesley Wyndham-Pryce in both "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and its spinoff "Angel." Since then, he's been in "How I Met Your Mother," other Joss Whedon projects such as "Dollhouse," and Marvel hits "The Avengers" and "Guardians of the Galaxy." But his first Emmy nomination came this summer, for his role in the Stage13.com episodic short series "I Love Bekka & Lucy." Denisof plays Glenn, the wheelchair-bound and somewhat annoying neighbor turned love interest of one of the stars of the show, which is written/directed/produced by Rachael Holder. I had a great conversation with Alexis about working for Whedon, "Angel," Shakespeare, short-form video, and playing a complicated role in a sympathetic and real way. Give it a listen.
In a quick little episode I talk about a company I wrote about this week for Forbes (link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dbloom/2018/08/07/amazon-downstream-saas-marketing-platform-investment/#6777d8324469 ) called Downstream. They just raised a little money, are cash-flow positive and are helping big brands navigate the crazy world of Amazon, where the data about what got bought (and by whom) may be more valuable than the product itself, given the brutal margins on the site. It's an intriguing idea and turns on its head a lot of what we think about Amazon and the sale of physical stuff. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.
TBS and Tracy Morgan's new show "The Last O.G." undertook a series of social-good initiatives in the Brooklyn area that "did good and did good business." I talked TBS (and TNT) Chief Marketing Officer Michael Engleman about the initiatives, how they built on the show's core themes and allowed the show to both help the neighborhood where it was shot and boost its own visibility with audiences. It's an unusual effort for a network show, but one worth doing again. Give it a listen.
I'm at San Diego Comic-Con, reconnoitering the epic craziness for stories and moderating panels for Tech Future Live!, a sort of show within the show. This panel on Friday evening featured a NASA scientist (Cassini-Saturn pics anyone?), a top Microsoft game exec, a musician behind the soundtrack of "Stranger Things," director of a cool new Oculus-Intel VR project and co-creator of a science-inspired musical-theatrical event coming later this year. Heck of a lineup, talking about how science and art have helped us envision the future. We talked about what inspired them to get where they are, and what inspires them to take us into the future. It was a great conversation. Give a listen.
This is a material from a conversation I had with the electronic music star deadmau5 around E3, the big game conference. He was in town to check out the conference, but also to perform as part of Subnation Live, a first-ever afterparty for the conference, and part of efforts to bring together music, games, lifestyle and gamer culture .This is a quickie, and I don't have any good audio of my conversation with deadmau5 and his droll and savvy manager, Dean Wilson. But maybe you'll enjoy the story anyway. Check it out.
A few days hanging around a writer's retreat in the mountains east of Los Angeles got me thinking about what the memoirs of our future look like in an era where lives are transcribed on social media in near-real time. The medium is the message and the onslaught of new platforms is changing how we tell our stories, and who we tell them to.
The giant gamer convention E3 opens today, and host David Bloom talks with Seven Volpone, CEO of Big Block Capital Group, about esports, brands, and gamer/lifestyle culture. At E3, Big Block is launching Subnation (link: http://thesubnation.com), which has created a fan-focused series of events, brand experiences and concerts at E3 (and at an afterparty Thursday) celebrating gamers and esports lifestyle and culture.
Brands are jumping in on the game business as it becomes more mainstream, (PwC estimates games and esports generated $23.4 billion in the U.S. last year). Subnation hopes to take advantage of that growing mainstream presence to connect gamers and esports fans with brands that can't reach younger audiences through traditional media.
A wave of mergers and acquisitions has hit Hollywood, as companies try to scale up to compete with the tech giants. But they're taking on debt and new regulatory, legal and organizational headaches. Host David Bloom suggests that to compete, Hollywood should be investing all that money and time in getting better, not bigger, and creating better content and experiences for its customers if it wants to compete against Apple, Netflix, Amazon and other challengers.
I moderated a great panel at the Los Angeles Games Conference, featuring top executives from Blizzard, Skydance, Studio 71, Jam City and Seismic Games. We talked about the new Harry Potter and Marvel mobile games, Guava Juice's latest venture, and the opportunities in China's giant market for game and entertainment intellectual property.
Host David Bloom talks with authors Mike Hais and Morley Winograd about their latest book, "Healing American Democracy: Going Local." It proposes that young Americans (Millennials and their successor generation, the "Plurals") can bypass the partisan gridlock afflicting national politics by putting "Think Globally, Act Locally" to work in a big way. They propose harnessing the civic-minded younger generations to empower local solutions while protecting Constitutional rights. Big Data and sharing technologies can be used to power the local solutions, while making it easier for other jurisdictions to discover and replicate successful approaches. Give a listen and let me know what you think.
Bloom in Tech host David Bloom talks with Vipe Desai about the Rising Tide Summit, which brings brands, businesses, researchers, non-profits and entrepreneurs together to discuss solutions to challenges facing our oceans, and all those who depend on the oceans. The conference is March 28-29 in San Pedro, Calif.
I sit down with Allison Stern, CMO and co-founder of Tubular Labs, which tracks 4 billion videos across social media. Their latest State of Online Video report just came out, detailing the hottest trends and influencers online. We get into pancake art, pancake auteur and influencer Collins Key, how brands should be tracking video trends in their messaging and more.