Welcome to Rerun, your weekly round-up of the most interesting news stories from the future of video, VR and TV, curated by Axonista.
A brief intro this time, because it was a big week for the TV & video industry! Disney, Netflix and Facebook all had big announcements, so let's get straight to it!
Disney to end its Netflix deal, acquire BAMtech, and launch ESPN and Disney-branded streaming services
Where to start with Disney's news this week? There are two big threads to their story...
Disney ending its Netflix deal, signalling a Disney-branded streaming service. Disney is one of the few brands who could go toe-to-toe with Netflix for entertainment. Aside from the classic Disney movies and franchises, you have the Star Wars and Marvel universes as well. Disney has a wealth of quality content for all the family, and it'll be fascinating to see what lineup they put together.
Speaking of the lineup, there's also the standalone ESPN service to consider. We've seen Sky in the UK recently restructure their sports offering, and going direct to consumer gives ESPN an opportunity to streamline and revitalize themselves in a similar fashion. All of this being powered by BAMtech means that on the technical side of things, these new services will absolutely work without a hitch.
Bonus: Speaking of BAMtech, they are the streaming partner for Riot Games' upcoming streaming service. Riot Games develops 'League of Legends', the most popular esport in the world, with over 100m monthly active players. ESPN has an esports vertical that it has been somewhat tentative with thus far. Could we see a close collaboration between these two going forward?
Future of TV
Netflix buys comic book company behind Kick-Ass and Kingsman
Its been a busy summer for Netflix, having announced an impressive slate of original content, from a new David Letterman series to its first Chinese production.
But the highlight of Netflix's busy summer is surely its acquisition of comics publisher Millarworld, which brings on board renowned comic book writer Mark Millar and a host of character franchises. Netflix have seen the success that Disney owned Marvel has brought the mouse house, and realised that exclusive comic book adaptations could draw large audiences to the streaming service.
At Rerun, we think this is an impressive move, given that Disney, one of Netflix's key partners has announced it will be developing its own streaming platform and wrapping up its deal with Netflix.
U.S. cable firms embrace former foe Netflix as TV viewing shifts
US Cable companies are finally capitulating to the Netflix revolution. A growing number of U.S. cable operators are now forming alliances with the streaming giant, allowing Netflix to appear on set top boxes. This is a complete u-turn from the early days of Netflix. Back then many operators viewed Netflix as a digital upstart that would damage their longtime business of selling channel bundles delivered via cable and satellites.
But US cable executives have come to see that a partnership with Netflix may help fight cord cutting and help promote higher-speed Internet services. Reuter TV reports that in some cases, cable companies receive a cut of subscription revenue when they sign up new Netflix users.
Facebook introduces Watch, its redesigned tab for video programming
Facebook is currently rolling out a new video section for its Android, iOS, web, and television platforms. "Watch" will be a dedicated area for original shows that Facebook will finance and selected shows from independent creators. Of course, the experience will be heavily anchored in social. Content will be recommended to you based on what your friends and communities are watching. Later, it will also be personalised to your interests as you continue to watch.
Facebook certainly have a few major advantages playing in their favour with this venture. Starting with two billion users who have shown a desire to consume video on the platform. Big publishers and entertainment companies have already made content commitments, no doubt excited by the prospect of such a large new audience. We expect Facebook will enjoy a sustained bump in revenue from the advertisements that will likely play during their content.
“You discover videos through your friends. You often find yourself discussing videos with friends. Video has this amazing power to bring people together and build community.”
Sorry Snapchat, it’s time to say goodbye
Is Snapchat's popularity waning, even among its most loyal users? When Instagram stories came on the scene, it looked like a Snapchat imitation. The features have played out different on the two apps, and it may be impacting Snapchat's millennial user base. This opinion piece shares a perspective on why one power user will be leaving Snapchat for good.
Building worlds in games and video: A Q&A with Jeff Chamberlain of Blizzard Entertainment
An animated short 'The Last Bastion', one of many created by the team at Blizzard, has won a Webby award for best writing in film & video. While Blizzard has a rich history of creating animated shorts, this one in particular, is perhaps their finest yet. It's based around a playable character in their hugely successful game 'Overwatch', which has over 30m players around the world. Bastion only communicates with beeps and boops, but the characterisation put into him is fantastic and reminiscent of Pixar's Wall-E.
In this interview, Jeff Chamberlain, Blizzard's VP of Story and Franchise Development, explains how the video came to be and what challenges and opportunities come from creating game worlds. Gaming is often overlooked as a storytelling medium, but that perception is slowly changing thanks to companies like Blizzard. 'Overwatch' has a series of animated shorts and comics which tie directly into the game itself, whether it's in the form of new characters or subtle changes to the environments, creating a 'living world' that for the players is hugely engrossing.
Startup Neurable unveils the world's first brain-controlled VR game
Every week at rerun we're writing about amazing new developments in virtual reality, but this one is truly mind boggling. A company called "Neurable" has revealed the World's First Brain-Controlled VR Game. A HTC Vive headset is customised by removing the elastic strap and attaching one with electrodes that can then interpret brainwave patterns.
Amazingly, this allows the player to move around and pick up objects using only their thoughts, along with various other interactions that showcase the technology. This removes the necessity for any hand held controllers or even an in-game user interface - which has the potential to make VR far more accessible.
Major Lazer's 'Know No Better' interactive video
With interactive video, simple ideas are often the key to success.
At Rerun, we think Major Lazer's new video 'Know No Better' is a prime example of this. The video features a young dancer, who begrudgingly lives through the boredom of his life while dreaming of a more fabulous existence. Viewers can watch the reality and the dream fantasy of the young boy by clicking anywhere on the video player.
This is a clever and well executed use of interactivity, as the format works well on any mobile and desktop device.