Happy Friday! Welcome to Issue 49 of Rerun, your weekly digest of digital storytelling, interactive media and the future of TV curated by Axonista. And welcome, especially, to all our new subscribers.
This week’s Top Pick is a look at Twitch’s impressive user figures, which show that the streaming site can out-do YouTube in viewing minutes and out-measure traditional TV ratings.
In VR news, Fox Sports and AP launch VR broadcasts for live sports and news, Syfy is making a new VR TV show and Leap Motion showcases its motion-sensing VR tech. In video news, Great Big Story stake a claim in video publishing, Tasting Table avoids Facebook by launching their own app, OK Go embrace Facebook video and Homer Simpson will hold an AMA. Seriously.
Let's get straight to it!
Twitch's 2015 Retrospective
In a 2015 retrospective, Twitch has released some staggering viewing figures from its platform for last year.
collectively we all watched more than 459,000 years-worth of video
Woah. An average of 1.7 million broadcasters streamed content on the service every month, and an average 550,000 concurrent viewers tuned in. Monthly minutes watched per viewer was on average 421.6 mins compared to 291 on YouTube.
Twitch also reported a peak audience of 2.09 million on August 23rd during 2 eSports tournament finals.
Our favourite thing about this retrospective–apart from its wonderfully playful design–is how measurable the Twitch platform is. Being able to accurately measure viewing, and having the ability to quickly respond to that feedback, is something that is still elusive in the traditional TV world, and gives Twitch the ability to do niche broadcasting at a global scale.
OK Go pick Facebook over YouTube for music video launch
YouTube made this band, and their fame is largely down to the exposure afforded by the video-sharing website. But their most recent video has debuted on Facebook, perhaps an indication of the force of Facebook video and, as the article suggests, intense rivalry between the two. The band posted a short YouTube video directing fans to the Facebook page to see the music video and, in an effort to explain their move, posted a list of impressive Facebook video stats.
We'd recommend the behind-the-scenes video to show the incredible effort put into making it, available on....YouTube.
Future of TV
Apple's first TV series is with Dr. Dre
Apple is working on its first TV series alongside producer Dr. Dre (who sold Beats to Apple in 2014 and is now an Executive at the company). The announcement was interesting firstly because- as a dark and violent TV drama- it seems at odds with Apple's brand identity. Secondly, it suggested that Apple is entering the TV business.
This follow-up article makes sense of this move, suggesting that Apple is not making TV, instead it's making video content to enhance its Apple Music service, something it has already done with the Taylor Swift concert film.
Tasting Table is looking beyond Facebook to make money off video
“We don’t monetize our video reach on Facebook — we can’t; Facebook does. It’s the problem with all of the content businesses that are built on back of other platforms, you live at the mercy of those platforms.” - Geoff Bartokovics, CEO of Tasting Table
By this time last year, Tasting Table had sold around $1.5m in advertising. They then ramped up their video production and pivoted to focus more on their own apps and plan to expand onto new platforms like the Apple TV. Already this year they've sold $6m in advertising.
The problem with distribution to 3rd party platforms like Facebook is, while you may get huge reach on it you can't monetise or control it yet. You also can't control the viewing and advertising experience like you can with your own platforms. Tasting Table are a great example of the benefits of publishing through your own channels.
Inside Great Big Story
Despite GBS's attempt to carve out their own space, media outlets like Digiday seem intent on constantly comparing them to Vice and BuzzFeed. One look at their content—or listening to what they're saying—would tell you such comparisons are pointless though.
"One of those is very shouty. The other is cotton candy. We didn’t see anybody occupying that smart space in the middle." - Chris Berend, co-founder of Great Big Story
GBS describe their offering as videos for "smart, curious" people who've grown out of or gotten bored with the majority of the "cotton candy" content that makes up their social feeds. A more apt comparison would be with the video offerings of the NY Times or Wired.
Right now they're not interested in chasing massive scale or world domination, but focusing on the quality of their content, their upcoming branded content and distribution deals with Aol, Yahoo and Conde Nast. This article gives a good insight into what makes them tick, and why they're worth keeping a close eye on.
Syfy makes show about VR, in VR
It's the year 2058. Virtual reality is so pervasive it requires its own VR Crimes Unit. This is the premise of Halcyon, the new show commissioned by NBC Universal and made by Syfy, which will have 10 regular episodes and 5 in VR viewable using Oculus Rift's VR headsets.
Those without a headset will get recaps of the VR episodes, but this might be a bit of a nudge to viewers to invest in VR headsets.
Fox Sports plan five years of sports broadcast in VR
Live sports and VR are a match made in heaven. Broadcast rights cost so much to acquire yet start diminishing in value the minute they go on air. Typically sports broadcasters only have a few days around an event to engage their audience, then the moment is gone forever.
How better to maximise revenue from a live event than sell virtual tickets that give fans access to usually off limit zones like pit lanes, paddocks and dressing rooms?
And get them hooked by giving it away for free ... initially, while the VR headset market becomes mainstream.
A five year deal has been made between Fox Sports and NextVR to broadcast major sporting events in VR. The deal starts with the Daytona 500 on February 21st, but the companies have worked together in 2015 on VR broadcasts of the US Golf Championship and the NASCAR race.
There are some really great features planned: viewers will be able to view the event from three perspectives and the VR stream will have its own dedicated audio commentary.
Leap Motion's new motion-sensing tech is built for VR
These floating skeletal appendages in front of me were almost as easy to control as my actual hands.
Leap Motion's new Orion project gives you a floating pair of virtual hands that feel like an extension of your own. Theres no controller to hold and no wires to attach. While it's not perfect—and this kind of interface has to be perfect—it's far more intuitive to use than holding controllers in your hands, and we think that in the long run this kind of interface will be the main way we interact in VR.
Associated Press launch VR news channel
Like VR and live sports, VR also seems a good match for video news. Organisations like The New York Times were already ahead of the curve in releasing a virtual reality app in 2015. Now AP is working with AMD to provide 360-degree experiences like that of its recent VR film, Seeking Home, made inside the Calais migrant camp.
AP has a reputation as an early adopter of new technologies, being among the first to use radio, Kodak digital cameras and YouTube to distribute news.
- Facebook will start automatically captioning video ads
- Gatorade's Super Bowl Snapchat filter got 160 million impressions
- "F*ck It" - Cosmopolitan Editor Joanna Coles on publishing to Snapchat
- Laura Slattery: One true telly remote to rule them all? We’re still waiting
- Microsoft gives breathtaking demo of HoloLens
- Executives from YouTube, Pepsi, UTA tapped to curate VidCon’s industry track
Homer Simpson live and animated will answer your questions
A live AMA with Homer Simpson! We kid you not.
On May 15th, using motion capture technology and the improv skills of the talented Dan Castellenata, Homer will answer questions pre-tweeted by viewers using the hashtag #HomerLive and will also comment on events of the day.
We reckon Homer has the experience and mass appeal to rival any talk show host. Ellen, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, watch out!