EXCLUSIVE: YouTube darling Joey Graceffa has signed with UTA for representation in all areas as the agency continues to cultivate a client list of online personalities and new media stars. Graceffa has built himself a YouTube audience of over 4M subscribers and 300M views across his channels and parlayed his Internet presence into numerous brand ambassador deals and a national live tour. The 22-year-old vlogger, gamer, and musician competed on CBS’ The Amazing Race last year with fellow Internet personality Meghan Camarena, taking 5th place in the competition’s 22nd season. He returned for The Amazing Race All-Star Edition and launched a successful Kickstarter to fund his own supernatural webseries Storytellers, which debuted last December. With UTA Graceffa will work to capitalize on his massive online following to create opportunities in film and television acting, publishing, touring, and music — all while maintaining his relationship with his 1.2M Twitter fans and YouTube following.
DreamWorks Animation will launch a YouTube family channel called DreamworksTV that will kick off this summer YouTube’s head of content and business operations Robert Kyncl told advertisers today at the company’s NewFront presentation in NYC. It was part of a campaign by the Google-owned company to promote itself as a place that’s safe for advertisers — with tons of data and, now, audience guarantees.
The problem with YouTube as an ad medium is that it’s too vast, and has too much inventory. Advertisers fear that their messages will be lost, and don’t want to pay up. But the service hopes to address that with a new sales initiative called Google Preferred, which it launched with support from ad agency Digitas. The program promotes the 5% most popular channels specializing in food, music, and entertainment. YouTube says it partnered with comScore and Nielsen to provide data in addition to Google’s real-time analytics. And Margo Georgiadis, Google’s sales president for the Americas, says it can make a “100% guarantee you’ll reach the audience you want to target.” That’s especially potent for those who want to reach 18-to-34 year olds. YouTube is the “No. 1 place [they] go to learn about a product or a passion,” she says.
Disney‘s in the process of spending potentially $1B for Maker Studios, and today’s agreement means that — when the deal closes — it will also indirectly manage YouTube channels and videos from Jukin Media, described as “the world’s leading licensing platform for viral video clips.” It has more than 30 YouTube channels including FailArmy, which has 4.8M subs and specializes in videos of people screwing up. Indeed, one of Maker‘s specific goals is to create a website for “all things FailArmy.” (Please, Disney, don’t turn this into a theme park attraction.) The companies also plan to co-produce shows for both the Internet and TV. “Maker clearly has the best expertise and collection of resources for helping us grow our business and brands both on and off YouTube,” says Jukin CEO Jonathan Skogmo. “This was an obvious alliance for us and we’re very excited to get started.”
Eleven months after being scooped up by DreamWorks Animation, the YouTube multi-channel network has made an acquisition of its own. Teen/tween-targeted AwesomenessTV said today it paid $15 million for Big Frame, which boasts 300-plus YouTube channels and nearly 40 million subscribers. The deal — which is subject to conditions but expected to close this month — brings such familiar online personalities as Jimmy Tatro, Tyler Oakley, DeStorm and MysteryGuitarMan to the next-gen media company led by founder and CEO Brian Robbins. Steve Raymond and Sarah Penna launched Big Frame in 2011, and it raised more than $3 million in seed capital the following year.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom preview CinemaCon, the big annual gathering of theater operators in Las Vegas that puts the popcorn in popcorn movies. They also examine the NAB’s claims to the FCC of a faltering local TV business; update the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger with news from the states; whistle through the highlights of the relatively quiescent Disney annual meeting; examine the implications of the recent settlement of the long-running Viacom-YouTube copyright lawsuit; and ponder what’s next for Yahoo, given the imminent stock IPO by Alibaba, which it partly owns.
YouTube network Machinima has unveiled sci-fi short Enormous, a live-action pilot to which Machinima will give a series commitment if its 10.9M YouTube fans demand it. (Watch it below.) Ceren Lee stars as a resistance fighter in a postapocalyptic future in which massive insect-like monsters have invaded Earth. Enormous is the second of three original shorts Machinima is debuting this month, each with the potential for a series greenlight, marking an essential next step as Machinima looks to evolve from YouTube video aggregator to content producer.
Machinima’s recent $18M investment from Warner Bros and yesterday’s addition of ex-Fox Networks CEO Tony Vinciquerra to its board are signs of its transition from programming other creators’ work to owning its IP. Here’s how this one came together as the company began seeking original content.
No details yet on the terms of the agreement ending the $1B action that Viacom launched in 2007. The entertainment giant and Google’s YouTube say the resolution is a sign of the “growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together.” Viacom had alleged that YouTube profited by turning a blind eye toward instances where users improperly posted its content, including clips from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. But Google said that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s “safe harbor” provisions absolved it of responsibility for infringements by its users. Google largely prevailed in decisions at the U.S. District Court in New York, and in appeals. But Viacom continued its appeal, charging that YouTube induced users to post copyright infringing content.
Here’s today’s release:
UPDATE, 3:29 PM: Google got some swift justice today, but it wasn’t the type it wanted. The 9th Circuit Appeals has decided it does not want to conduct an all-judges rehearing of the tech giant’s appeal in the Innocence Of Muslims copyright case. “A vote of the non-recused active judges was conducted as to whether to rehear the panel order en banc,” read an order (read it here) from the court today after Judge Sidney Thomas talked to his colleagues. “A majority of the non-recused active judges did not vote in favor of rehearing en banc.” This sua sponte action of Thomas’ own initiative comes two days after the tech giant requested a full rehearing by the appeals court. On February 19, a 9th Circuit panel sided with actress Cindy Lee Garcia and decided 2-1 that YouTube had to take down the controversial anti-Islam film Innocence Of Muslims. With today’s order, this is Google’s third loss in a row in its appeal. “Therefore, the panel shall resume control of the case,” added today’s 2-page order. “Any further proceedings as to the panel opinion, including any petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc, will be considered separately.”
PREVIOUS, MARCH 13 PM: It has struck out two times in a row so far, but Google isn’t giving up its legal battle to get the Innocence Of Muslims video back on YouTube. In an expected en banc rehearing request this week against the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2-1 decision of February 19 in favor of actress Cindy Lee Garcia ordering the controversial 14-minute trailer taken offline, the tech giant says the Copyright Office is on its side.
If you’re the sort who makes his living swimming in the social-media sea like I do, one form of sport these days is the online battles between big shows to grab fan mindshare and loyalty from each other — particularly as the networks slowly begin to understand that this stuff can make a difference. And nowhere are those battles more starkly direct and entertaining than in late-night, where each talk show has a big team of social-media specialists culling potentially viral bits from the day’s program and sprinkling them across the web. The battle has become particularly stout between Jimmy Fallon‘s online team at The Tonight Show and the Jimmy Kimmel Live crew.
Both shows have had big lead-ins recently (the Winter Olympics in Fallon’s first days; ABC’s Oscars on March 2, when Kimmel went live on the East Coast right after the awards show ended). But the crucial bit is not the audience you’re bequeathed, but the one you build. According to data from RelishMIX, which tracks fan engagement for TV shows and movies across, particularly, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, no one’s building better right now than Fallon. Overall, from March 3-March 10, Fallon’s YouTube videos were watched nearly four times as often as Kimmel’s, 27.5 million to 7.6 million. That’s a margin. Right now, Kimmel still leads Fallon in total YouTube subscribers, about 3 million to less than 2.7 million. Then again, Kimmel’s been at it for a while; Fallon took over the Tonight Show social media outlets barely a month ago.
This was expected, and needed, as evidenced by last week’s announcement that the online video service that targets gamers (read: teenaged boys and young men) axed about 30% of its workforce. But it’s interesting to see how much today’s release plays up the potential partnerships between Machinima and Warner Bros. Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise says that there are “myriad opportunities” to connect their audiences. And Warner Bros Television Group President of Business and Strategy Craig Hunegs says he’s “excited” about the ability “to reach new audiences, create new original content, and discover new talent.” Don’t be surprised if they look for projects outside of Google’s YouTube, which collects about 45% of the ad revenues it sells for Machinima. No word here about the terms of the financing arrangement, although the companies say that current investors MK Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Google Capital have also upped their stake. Machinima is said to have raised $67M, including $35M from Google. Here’s today’s official announcement:
Today’s announcement and other financial moves reportedly in the works for the gaming-oriented online service underscore how hard it is for channels to make money at YouTube. Machinima – which describes itself as “the number one global video entertainment network for young males” — says today that the layoffs, hitting 30% of the workforce, are part of its “restructuring in and around its sales organization” as it leans on its “longstanding partnership with YouTube to drive media sales.” But it also comes as it lines up $18M in funding from a group led by Warner Bros, website Re/code reports, citing “people familiar with the transaction.” Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that Warner Bros was mulling the possibility of investing as much as $15M in the online video operation. The numbers are a far cry from the amounts approaching $70M that Machinima was said to be hoping to secure last year. One of the problems for YouTube services like Machinima is that Google takes about 45% of the ad revenue it sells, as well as much of the inventory.
Despite Google‘s best legal efforts, you won’t be seeing the controversial Innocence Of Muslims trailer on YouTube anytime soon – at least not the version with actress Cindy Lee Garcia in it. On Friday, the tech giant was denied its second emergency stay motion against the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2-1 decision of February 19 ordering the video wiped off YouTube. That order was made public on February 26 and while Google tried to quickly get the right to have the video online during the appeal process, it failed – kind of. “Google, Inc. shall take down all copies of Innocence of Muslims from YouTube.com and from any other platforms under Google’s control, and take all reasonable steps to prevent further uploads of Innocence of Muslims to those platforms. Google shall comply with this order within twenty-four hours of the issuance thereof,” said the 3-judge panel in its 2-page order on February 28 (read it here). While this reaffirms the court’s earlier decision, it does make a small but important change in regards to the 2012 14-minute video and the actress who launched the copyright case against it. A change that gives Google and anyone else who wants to post the video some wiggle room. “This order does not preclude the posting or display of any version of Innocence of Muslims that does not include Cindy Lee Garcia’s performance,” …
UPDATE, 12:39 PM: Google isn’t taking a court order to take down the 14-minute trailer for Innocence Of Muslims lying down. YouTube‘s parent company filed an emergency motion at the 9thCircuit Court of Appeals late yesterday urging it to stay its order pending a full en banc hearing. Google’s 29-page motion raised First Amendment concerns and alleged that there’d be copyright “chaos” for everyone — especially Hollywood — if minor players in a production can assert a right to control its fate. Service providers including YouTube lack the ability to determine who has a valid copyright claim, the search giant says. “And absent a stay, Google, YouTube, and the public face irreparable harm because the panel’s order will gag their speech and limit access to newsworthy documents—categorically irreparable injuries.” In a case than lasted more than a year and a half, the court sided with actress Cindy Lee Garcia who wanted the trailer for the anti-Islam film taken down. We’ll see what the Ninth Circuit says.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY AM: Actress Cindy Lee Garcia has won a significant victory in her copyright case against Google over her request to have Google-owned YouTube take down the trailer for the controversial anti-Islam film Innocence Of Muslims. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision today (read it here) rejected Google’s assertion that the removal of the film amounted to a prior restraint of speech that violated the U.S. Constitution. The court is ordering YouTube to remove the video, and the video-sharing site could be hit with major penalties.
UPDATE: 8:45 PM: Jimmy Kimmel revealed on his ABC late-night program tonight that the video of a wolf posted to YouTube by U.S. luger Kate Hansen with the message “I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi” was in fact a wolf in Los Angeles walking down a replica of the hall outside Hansen’s Sochi hotel room. Hansen agreed to let Kimmel’s people take over her Twitter account to post the video, he said. Like the last time Kimmel punked the media with his fake twerk-fail video, he ran clips of various news outlets he’d fooled — many of them ruminating as to whether the animal actually was a wolf, a husky, a malamute, or a mutt. Kimmel showed the rest of the video, in which he is seen skiing down the hallway, calling out the name “Garfield” and asking, “Have you seen my wolf?” Kimmel then interviewed Hansen via Skype, who said “there was a little more backlash” at the hotel than she’d anticipated, including security staff who, she said, were “freaking out” after word of the video got around. “It kind of went a little crazy here,” she said. The animal is a “timber wolf mix,” its handler said, believed to be 80%-90% wolf, though she was not certain, and is named Rugby.
This is an interesting alliance for animation veteran Fred Seibert whose executive producer credits include Adventure Time, The Fairly OddParents, The Powerpuff Girls, and Dexter’s Laboratory. Animator and director Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat is YouTube‘s No. 2 animation channel with 2.75M subscribers. Under the new deal Seibert’s Channel Frederator Network will handle all of Simon’s Cat‘s advertising and distribution including targeted ads that use TrueView and Adwords to cash in on sales of Simon’s Cat licensed merchandise. That could be significant. Simon’s Cat animation appears on Japan’s NHK and Italy’s LA7, with more than 1.5M books sold in at least 27 countries. There are more than 120 related products including stationary, gifting and apparel. The alliance is “proof of the fact that the internet has ushered in a new golden age of animation,” Seibert says.
Nine digital media companies have joined forces to create the Global Online Video Association, the first-ever org designed to represent and promote the growing digital content industry. Multi-channel networks Big Frame, BroadbandTV, Collective Digital Studios, DECA, Discovery Digital Networks/Revision3, Fullscreen, Maker Studios, Magnet Media, and MiTu Networks are backing the nonprofit corporation which was announced today during the inaugural Digital Entertainment World conference in LA. Collective Digital Studio SVP Strategy and Sales Paul Kontonis will serve as executive director of GOVA. Top of mind for member digital companies is drawing more advertisers to the nontraditional space to make digital ad sales more profitable, given that GOVA member companies rep 10 billion monthly video views online. In its first year GOVA will focus on building awareness with and relationships between advertisers, consumers, and content partners like YouTube, Amazon and Microsoft. “Online video has exploded for consumers and advertisers, and is a terrific new opportunity for brands to reach new audiences,” said Jason Krebs, Head of Sales, Maker Studios. “GOVA will help us create awareness faster amongst consumers and accelerate adoption by marketers.”
Think big advertisers are so focused on TV’s Golden Age programming (and audiences) that they aren’t interested in the YouTube-based creators drawing hordes of younger viewers to watch their back-bedroom shows? Think again.
Earlier this week, research firm eMarketer estimated Google would take in about $5.6 billion in gross YouTube advertising revenues, up 51 percent from 2012, and would keep nearly $2 billion after paying YouTube partners and expenses. Those estimates are notably higher than other Wall Street firms’ (and Google doesn’t break out its YouTube revenues and expenses separately), but suggest regardless that lots of money is sloshing into the online video king.
And based on this week’s Los Angeles events sponsored by Ford and Nintendo, Madison Avenue and its big clients are definitely tuning into YouTube’s rising echelon of performers for marketing boosts in lots of different ways besides just buying an ad.
Service appears to have been restored after about a half-hour period during which visitors to the popular video site found a “500 Internal Service Error” headline followed by text that said: “Sorry, something went wrong. A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with the situation.” No word yet on what happened. Here’s the statement from a YouTube spokesperson: “Some people encountered errors, or a slower than normal experience on YouTube today. We worked quickly to address the issue and fixed the problem. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this caused.”
Endemol Beyond is a new global venture that will create a premium network of international and local channels across such platforms as YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, MSN and Dailymotion. Big Brother producer Endemol is spending an initial 30M euros ($40.3M) on the venture which will invest in high-end original productions for the channels and will also acquire third-party programming. Genres will include comedy, entertainment, fashion and film. Endemol says Endemol Beyond will mirror its core content business, leveraging the company’s global creativity, brands and IP and producing premium entertainment that is exploited across all platforms. Its digital video business already has over 100 YouTube channels in worldwide markets including Germany where the Endemol Beyond brand was launched in 2012. Georg Ramme, who runs the German operation, will become managing director of Endemol Beyond International.