The International Olympics Committee and top esports organizations are discussing bringing esports to the Olympic Games. It would legitimize esports for some previously reluctant decision makers at major sports sponsors, while bringing the Games an influx of ardent young fans at a time when TV audiences for many established sports are aging.
But lots of challenges remain (Which titles? Who picks the competitors from each country? What role for publishers?) before you'll see Overwatch or NBA2K or League of Legends at the Olympic level. I talked with Warsaw-based Michal Blicharz, VP of professional gaming for ESL, about what must happen before we see esports at the Paris Games in 2024 or Los Angeles in 2028.
What do you think? Do you want to see Olympic esports? Let me know.
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.