Hurricane Florence brings mixed reality innovation into TV production

The video that is getting viral attention across the Internet is this video of a Weather Channel reporter being “a little dramatic”. Which is a shame, because it is overshadowing how The Weather Channel is using the Unreal Engine, a popular video game development platform, to build post-production effects in real-time, delivering some of the most informative storm coverage we have seen to date.

1. Ideation

Keep an eye on who buys and distributes the TV show “Alan Wake”
Because, it may mark a paradigm shift in how video game IP gets translated for television

Back in newsletter #119, I asked “Can Hollywood studios find the next Marvel universe in video game IP?” This piece delivers one answer to that: television “is a better fit for video game adaptations than are movies” because a 10-40 hour experience can be mapped out into a series. Concededly, this piece is intended to help sell the show to a Netflix or ABC, but the sales pitch here is tight, and “Alan Wake” does come with a built-in audience of fans who played the game on a Xbox 360 or Windows PC back in 2010,

2. Production

“Peak TV” begins to show strains from a limited talent pool of showrunners
Scripts that come in with proven showrunners are getting a leg up

The Hollywood Reporter has been *on fire* this week with pieces about writers rooms: the piece above, this piece on how talent agencies like WME and CAA are creating conflict with the Writers Guild by pursuing producer credits and ownership stakes in film and TV shows, and this excellent interview with ‘Black-ish’ Creator and new Netflix eight-figure signeee Kenya Barris. I highlight this particular piece above because it is evidence supporting a tweet from Rolling Stone TV Critic Alan Sepinwall this week: “Plot points from every screener I’ve watched this week are starting to repeat so often, I fear that soon all these shows will merge into one giant-sized show without beginning or ending.” And that mirrors a finding from a recent study by Streaming Observer: a trade-off between quantity and quality is emerging in the shows across platforms in the marketplace.


3. Hosting

The DC Universe SVOD seems to be the smart, thoughtful user experience
A SVOD case study worth following

DC Comics had quite the week of publicity: the rumored departures of Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman, and the launch of its new SVOD service (above). The SVOD is interesting because it is not *only* a streaming service: in addition to original programming and a library of previous tv shows and movies of DC Universe content, it also offers digital comics and an encyclopedia of DC universe characters. That said, its “biggest weakness” is its current lack of content, and for this reason, “It is unclear still, in a rapidly crowding field, how much space there is for targeted products such as DC Universe.”


4. Distribution / Monetization

AT&T’s Brian Lesser has a data-driven vision to reinvent TV advertising
It is ambitious and compelling, but will AT&T and/or his clients grasp it?

AT&T came out bold this week, both with the in-depth interview with Brian Lesser, CEO of AT&T’s advertising and analytics unit, and another with CEO Randall Stephenson at an investor conference hosted by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The big castle in the sky is “updat[ing] the traditional TV advertising market… before Silicon Valley’s giants muscle in”, to “reinvent how advertising is done across the entire spectrum”. And this must-read interview with Lesser breaks down the foundation of that approach, but leaves us with enough questions to ask whether targeting is what TV ad buyers want (precedent says, kind of), and how much change they are willing to stomach.


5. Customer Research

Understanding Facebook Watch with Tubular Labs’ Q3 2018 State of Online Video Report
But, questions about TV measurement vs. digital measurement may shorten that runway

Facebook Watch had its first good week of headlines in awhile this week, announcing a reality show with New York Giants star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and the news that it is in talks to invest $10M in global European football (or, soccer) superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for a 13 episode docu-series. And this report offers evidence, post-World Cup, as to why Facebook is willing to cut one of its largest checks yet for Ronaldo: accordring to Tubular Labs, Cristiano Ronaldo videos across content creators generated 137M views in Q2. The rest of the report offers insights into how publishers are taking a portfolio approach to video production and also, notably, how international creators are increasingly important to these platforms for video content creation. (NOTE: registration required for download)


The Trend Zone

  • (NEW) The Outline and the curse of media venture capital – Mathew Ingram (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • (NEW) How confusing tech, GDPR, and a shifting consumer climate killed the once huge promise of location-based ads – Lauren Johnson (Business Insider Prime)
  • (NEW) Forget the new iPhones: Apple’s best product is now privacy – Michael Grothaus (Fast Company)
  • (NEW) Media planners battle the bots – Megan Graham (AdAge)
  • PARQOR Weekly Newsletter “Syllabus” for 2018 – Andrew A. Rosen (PARQOR Newsletter)