Skip to main content

At NewFronts, NewFangled Platforms Put on a Show

The digital content Newfronts, which wrapped May 7, squeezed nearly two dozen presentations into eight days, all wedged between and on top of Cable Show and traditional TV upfronts. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, which puts on the NewFronts, released a study May 7 showing a 15% rise in original digital content viewing over 2013 levels. Here are recaps of three major pitches:


Hulu’s new chief Mike Hopkins told attendees at its talent-studded presentation that the platform is in talks with pay-TV providers to offer Hulu Plus to subs and integrate the service into their set-top boxes. “We want to give viewers easy access to their favorite shows anytime, anywhere,” Hopkins said, adding that the paid service has surpassed 6 million subs. The announcement comes as Netflix is inking deals with MSOs, including last week’s Suddenlink pact, to become available on TiVo set-tops.

Hulu’s free, ad-supported service will be available on mobile devices beginning this summer (previously only Hulu Plus was available off the desktop). A redesigned iPhone app for Hulu Plus will also launch this summer.

New content head Craig Erwich announced renewals for freshman original comedy Deadbeats, to go along with previously renewed originals The Awesomes, Moone Boy, East Los High and Behind the Mask. Stars trotted out at the event included Awesomes’ Seth Meyers, Mindy Project’s Mindy Kaling and Community’s Danny Pudi and Gillian Jacobs. —Tim Baysinger


At its NewFronts presentation May 6, Maker Studios executive chairman Ynon Kreiz said he expects the acquisition of the muiltichannel network by Disney to be a “game-changer” for the company and the industry.

Disney announced the Maker pickup in March, and the deal could be worth close to $1 billion once incentives are factored in. Maker will be able to leverage assets such as Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, ESPN, ABC and Disney’s archives and plans to create short-form videos. “Our combined reach of unique viewers will be only behind Google and Facebook,” Kreiz said.

Maker also announced partnerships with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, James Franco and Morgan Spurlock.

Chief content officer Erin McPherson was interrupted (as scripted) by Maker talent P’Trique and the redoubtable Miss Piggy. performed a few songs (including a freestyle with his iPad) with Cody Wise. The Gregory Brothers performed a folk version of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”

Maker screened the season premiere of Epic Rap Battlesof History, “a blockbuster in every sense of the word: 1.5 billion views to date, 30 million average views an episode,” McPherson said. “Those are numbers that would make broadcasters salivate.” –Luke McCord


YouTube’s “Brandcast” pitch to ad buyers April 30 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden spotlighted its Google Preferred strategy.

The new approach, supported by a lavish traditional marketing campaign, focuses consumer and advertiser attention on the top 5% of content creators on YouTube and offers Nielsen-backed guarantees. Several of those top-five percenters appeared at the two-hour event, ranging from Rainn Wilson’s spiritualist outfit SoulPancake to Vice Media to 18-year-old fashionista Bethany Mota (whose channel has 6.1 million subscribers, more than Beyoncé’s).

In contrast with its rivals’ celebrity-driven and sometimes more staid tack (roll out the Alist stars and cue “Happy”), YouTube’s goal appeared to be to simply illuminate the content that is hiding, at least to some on Madison Avenue, in plain sight. Frank Cooper, PepsiCo CMO, noted the company’s 50% YouTube spend gain in the past year came after its “Uncle Drew” Pepsi Max spots racked up 52 million views.

Clips from DreamWorks TV, the channel launching this summer, debuted. Robert Kyncl, You Tube head of content and business operations, said DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katz-enberg “finally realized his dream of having a kids network. And he didn’t do that on broadcast or cable. He did it on YouTube, because that’s where his audience lives.” —Dade Hayes