Facebook's would-be YouTube competitor "Watch" has struggled to find an audience after more than a year in the game.

November 27, 2018 | Hollywood


Good morning. Last night in New York: Indie film studio A24 swept the Gotham Awards, the first award show on the road to the Oscars. Their victory is also good news for Apple, which recently signed A24 to produce a slate of films for its forthcoming streaming service.


Talk of the Valley: Mark Zuckerberg's Stream Fail — Facebook's would-be YouTube competitor "Watch" has struggled to find an audience after more than a year in the game, claiming a mere 50 million monthly viewers vs. YouTube's 1.8 billion.


Now, Facebook is shifting gears, reining in the number of shows it will buy while turning its attention toward older viewers, per CNBC's Michelle Castillo:


• "In talks with at least three media companies, Facebook has hinted it wants Watch shows aimed at post-college millennials around parenting age and older."


• "Teens are losing interest in Facebook overall. A recent Piper Jaffray report showed only 36% of teens used Facebook at least once a month ... down from 52% just two years ago."


• "One media company said Facebook was asking them for shows hosted by traditional celebrities rather than social media stars. ... Facebook was also asking for more formats that may be familiar to traditional TV viewers and middle America, like reality and talk shows."


My top takeaways:


• Big tech companies don't have an automatic claim on creative content. It takes more than hiring creatives (like Ricky Van Veen) to turn a data platform into a content platform.


• Promotion matters. Facebook made Watch all but impossible to find on desktop and mobile, whereas platforms like Snapchat have put publishers and media companies front and center.


• Audience matters. Young people left Facebook a long time ago for Instagram and Snapchat. Targeting older users should have been the strategy from the get go.


The Streaming Wars: John Stankey Names DTC Chief — AT&T's WarnerMedia has tapped DirecTV veteran Brad Bentley to oversee the company’s new direct-to-consumer streaming service, which will launch late next year.


What's Next: Bentley will lead AT&T into next year's battle with Disney as both companies go to market with premium streaming services.


• The Warner-Disney fight is Hollywood's most highly anticipated story line of 2019, as each competes to produce the best service at launch.


• WarnerMedia's service will feature HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. content, while Disney's will have Disney, Marvel, Pixar, LucasFilm and Fox.


Bonus ... Fun Disney fact: "The teaser trailer for the upcoming 'Lion King' film was viewed 224.6 million times within its first 24 hours," per FiveThirtyEight. "That was a Disney record."


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What's Next: The Birth of "Fox Nation" — Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch's streaming service launches today with a slate of conservative entertainment and opinion programming that aims to capitalize on and expand the Fox News fan base.

• The Murdochs are hoping Fox Nation will give them an added revenue stream ($5.99 a month) from die-hard Fox News superfans.

• The Murdochs also hope to gain access to younger audiences and cord cutters who have defected from cable.

The Programming, via Broadcast & Cable:

John Finley, the executive overseeing Fox Nation, calls it a "a hybrid mix" of Netflix and Facebook Live, with pre-recorded shows and live programming.

• The lineup will include Fox News notables Sean Hannity, Tomi Lahren and Judge Andrew Napolitano, as well as entertainers like Diamond & Silk and the wrestler Tyrus. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy will host a cooking show.

The Big Picture: Fox News is pioneering 24-hour cable news into the direct-to-consumer streaming space as a hedge against the waning influence of traditional cable. It's an open question as to whether or not it will be a success.


Market Links


• Jeff Bezos turns Amazon into an advertising giant (WSJ)


Ginni Rometty joins the anti-Facebook bandwagon (Bloomberg)


Jimmy Pitaro expands EPSN's NFL Draft coverage (NFL)


Tinsel Tussle: The War for Christmas TV — "As much as modern audiences love streaming shows on demand, Nielsen data suggests live viewing ... spikes dramatically for holiday-themed programming," Vulture's Josef Adalian reports.


"Networks are responding with ever more extensive holiday offerings":


• "On the broadcast side ... holiday-themed episodes of scripted series and reruns of chestnuts such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are being supplemented with more original specials."


• On cable ... "Hallmark Channel and Lifetime are increasing production of their patented Christmas rom-coms, premiering dozens of new titles over the space of a few months. Freeform and AMC ... are focusing on Christmas classics, offering endless opportunities to watch holiday standards such as Elf or The Santa Clause."


• "Then there’s Netflix, whose something-for-everyone offering hews closely to its overall strategy of appealing to the masses."


See Adalian's full list of the offerings here.


What's Next: Forbes contributor Alan Wolk delves into Netflix's promotion problem: "Netflix has far too many shows and not enough time to promote them all," he writes.


See you tomorrow.

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