Happy Friday and welcome to Rerun!
After a subdued start to the year the VR industry is revving up again, with plenty of announcements this week and due in the weeks ahead, and of course we'll have the news you need to know right here.
We also noticed a theme this week in the continuation of blurred lines between social platforms and video services, and we saw a scary chart for digital publishers.
TV is changing, but not fast enough
In August 2011 Walt Mossberg received a phone call from Steve Jobs, saying he'd figured out a way to revolutionise TV. Five and a half years later we've yet to see the fruition of this. While many people today stream their TV via mobile devices there's still a huge number of people sticking with cable. They're paying lots of money for channels they don't watch and practically living in the past. For these viewers it might as well be 20 years ago.
In this article Walt outlines three of his key takeaways from Recode's Code Media conference, where the upending of traditional TV was a hot topic.
"Before I talk about what I learned at Code Media, let me explain what I mean by a “fundamental” reworking of traditional TV. I mean a total unbundling down to the level of each TV show, not the network; the ability to watch those individual shows in any combination I like, whenever or wherever I want, immediately upon their release, on any device I like; and the option to choose between paying a zero or modest fee to watch with ads or to pay a bit more and never see ads."
Inside Disney’s troubled $675 mil. Maker Studios acquisition
Digiday has published a detailed overview of Disney's acquisition of Maker Studios, fuelled by insights from some anonymous former Maker executives. In the latest round of layoffs at Maker ~80 people will lose their jobs as Disney plans to shrink its YouTube network from tens of thousands of creators to roughly 300.
There's a lot packed into the article, which profiles a company that chased scale at any cost, made some poor choices when it came to original content, and lacked a clear focus and direction. And of course now it's ditched—although rightly so—arguably the most popular figure on its roster, PewDiePie.
Future of TV
Where is Twitter streaming making an impact in sports? How about lacrosse?
While Twitter has been busy picking up rights to well known sports such as NFL, PGA Golf, and 6 Nations Rugby, it has also been picking up rights to lesser known sports such as lacrosse.
Earlier this year, Campus Insiders, which is part of Chicago-based media company Silver Chalice, announced a deal with Twitter that would allow the live stream of 300+ live college events from a variety of sports including football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, volleyball, field hockey, water polo and swimming.
This past weekend Twitter streamed one of its first university men’s lacrosse games. The live stream drew over 680,000 unique viewers on Twitter. It marked the most viewed college live stream for any sport on Twitter so far. >Most importantly it showed the potential audience size Twitter can glean for niche sports. Twitter is a global platform, and can easily reach dispersed sports fans.
Twitter will face some tough competition from Facebook. According to sports media consultant Lee Berke, "Facebook is aggressively going after sports content and they are now one of a number of competitors to traditional media outlets that are going after sports programming''. At Rerun, we reckon that once Twitter and Facebook start producing wrap around content for live sports, traditional sports broadcasters will really have something to contend with.
Preserving the past in a digital age
Since Thomas Edison introduced the movie camera in the late 1880's, amateur and professional filmmakers have used motion pictures to tell stories, document public and private moments, to make public announcements and so much more. In the digital age, we can share, store and digitise film with relative ease. The same can not be said for films of the past. Created on perishable plastic and kept in tin cans, film reels can easily decay if not properly stored.
The Irish Film Institute is one film archive that is working to save such precious records. The IFI Archive collects, preserves and shares Ireland’s national moving image. It is a diverse resource that chronicles over one hundred years of Irish achievement and experience on film. They have recently launched the IFI Player, an initiative to publicly and globally share Ireland's past as captured on film.
GroupM pushes ahead with its own cross-platform ad measurement efforts
The development of a universal total audience cross-platform measurement tool has been underway for some time, but with multiple stakeholders involved at all levels of the industry, has seen significant delays getting to market.
Video and ad technology has been developing so quickly that ratings measurement is having a difficult time keeping up with it, and by the time new ratings solutions come to market, they are often already out of date.
Media investment management company GroupM isn't happy to wait any longer and is working on advancing its own cross-platform ad measurement, separately with rivals Nielsen and Comscore. This is one to keep an eye on.
Hollywood has no idea what to do with VR
This is a perspective on VR filmmaking we haven't heard much of yet. Ty Burr is a film critic with the Boston Globe. He makes a great comparison between VR and the film industry, stating VR is currently struggling to move past “novelty” content to develop real entertainment with mass appeal. Burr compares this to the film industry’s struggles in the early 20th century to develop real story-telling.
Furthermore, if VR is the future of entertainment, we don’t know what the entertainment really is:
Works like Allumette, Notes on Blindness, and especially Dear Angelica point the way toward what VR might yet become, but it’s almost impossible to describe what that may be.
Burr essentially argues we only know what VR isn’t: “linear” or “scene to scene” as Hollywood films are. Whatever path VR takes to truly define itself, consumers are going to have to learn how to be entertained by it, as well as how to use the new technology.
However, some filmmakers may be on the right path.
Exploring mixed-reality video capture
VR has a sharing problem. It's currently very difficult to share experiences with non-VR users, whether that's for a live studio demo to investors or a marketing video for YouTube. A few companies have been tackling this problem head-on, including YouTube themselves, whose technology made this Conan O’Brien segment possible.
The creators of 'Job Simulator', OwlchemyVR, are using a similar technique to YouTube. By combining green screen with virtual cameras and image recognition, they can create incredibly seamless looking mixed reality footage.
And then there's a technique we're all familiar with! UK-based Abyssal Arts and GSProductions have announced a Unity extension called VRCameraman, which gives creators a virtual camera that they can use to artistically record footage from inside a VR experience.
Here's what's next for VR from Samsung
With speculation rife that the Samsung S8 will launch in April and strong rumours of a 6.2 inch screen being the key feature of the device, Tech Radar has, in a refreshing piece from the slew of news stories on the S8, focused more on Samsung's upcoming showcase of four new virtual and augmented reality experiences. Exhibiting at 4 Years From Now, a platform at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Samsung will unveil Relúmĭno, Monitorless, VuildUs and TraVRer.
How any of these experiences may or may not pair up with the S8 and Gear VR remains to be seen, but it's a fascinating look into how seriously Samsung are devoting resources to VR and AR.
The rise of eSports in higher education
With the National University eSports League attracting competitors from more than 120 universities and with crowd-funded pool prizes worth millions of pounds, there are few university campuses that haven't latched on to eSports and eSports competitions.
Beginning as a story on the growing rise of eSports on campuses in both the UK and the US, where there has been an increase in varsity programmes for eSports, Hilary Lamb's piece finishes by emphasising the growing academic interest in eSports, not in tech academic departments, but in the fields of health and sports management.
Perhaps the most telling quote in Lamb's article on the mainstream and academic acceptance of eSports and tech activities by the non-tech academic fields to which they relate is from Josh Williams, founder of the UK’s National University eSports League:
The whole idea of internet-born activities, the communities, the mindset, the sociological aspect of what’s going on, this is the sort of paradigm that will define the next few decades and our generation. It’s a fascinating phenomenon and there are lots of different interesting aspects to it.
- Advertisers love YouTube, just ask Snapchat
- More than half of millennial males rely on live streaming over cable for news & entertainment
- YouTube ditches unskippable 30-second ads
- Snap starts selling Spectacles online in the US for $130
- MobiTV raises $21M as it pivots into set-top box-free IPTV for the living room
- Instagram lets you post up to 10 photos or videos as 1 swipeable carousel
- J.J. Abrams & Stephen King team up for a new Hulu series
Japan's latest mascot is a flying drone puppy
Between Amazon beginning to re-revolutionize the delivery industry and the Super Bowl putting on a lights show in the sky, drones are all the rage nowadays.
This fascination with drones has now found its way to Oji, Japan. A puppy drone was created to embody the village's spirit or deity as a mascot. It now flies around the town either welcoming tourists to their attractions or keeping the locals company. Or as this gif in the article displayed it, chasing the locals.
Yukimaru also chases after a jogger on the banks of the Yamato River: