Excel esports on ESPN show world the pain of format errors

Ladies and gentlemen, let's get ready to modelllllllll!

Enlarge / Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to modelllllllll! (credit: FMWC)

If you watched ESPN2 during its stint last weekend as “ESPN8: The Ocho,” you may have seen some odd, meme-friendly competitions, including corgi racing, precision paper airplane tossing, and slippery stair climbing.

Or you might have seen “Excel Esports: All-Star Battle,” a tournament in which an unexpected full-column Flash Fill is announced like a 50-yard Hail Mary. It’s just the latest mainstream acknowledgment of Excel as a viable, if quirky, esport, complete with down-to-the-wire tension and surprising comebacks.

The full Excel Esports All-Star Battle.

The Financial Modeling World Cup (FMWC) hosts regular international competitions, both invitational and open to anyone, in which Excel pros strive to solve as many questions as possible from a complex task. You can download all three of the tasks used in last weekend’s battle for free.

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#biz-it, #espn, #esports, #excel, #fmwc, #gaming-culture, #microsoft-excel

The Former Electrical Engineer Leading Disney’s Streaming Strategy

Kareem Daniel has become one of the entertainment industry’s most powerful executives, exposing him to Hollywood’s slings and arrows.

#chapek-robert-a, #disney-plus, #espn, #media, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #walt-disney-company

Women’s Final Four: Schedule and Analysis

On Friday, Louisville and South Carolina face off in a matchup of No. 1 seeds, followed by No. 2 Connecticut against No. 1 Stanford. The women’s national championship game is Sunday.

#basketball-college, #boston-aliyah-2001, #brink-cameron-2001, #bueckers-paige-2001, #colleges-and-universities, #espn, #henderson-destanni-1999, #minneapolis-minn, #national-collegiate-athletic-assn, #ncaa-basketball-championships-women, #north-carolina-state-university, #staley-dawn, #stanford-university, #university-of-connecticut, #university-of-south-carolina, #van-lith-hailey-2001

John Clayton, Veteran N.F.L. Reporter Who Worked at ESPN, Dies at 67

Mr. Clayton, who was known as the Professor, combined substantive reporting and a crisp delivery during his on-air appearances.

#clayton-john, #deaths-obituaries, #espn, #football, #national-football-league, #news-and-news-media, #seattle-wash

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to Host ‘Monday Night Football’

Their multiyear deals will make the duo, who have called games together for 20 N.F.L. seasons, among the highest-paid sports broadcasters.

#aikman-troy, #buck-joe, #espn, #football, #fox-sports, #monday-night-football-tv-program, #national-football-league, #television

Chris Evert, Tennis Hall of Famer, Says She Has Ovarian Cancer

The early-stage cancer was detected after a preventive hysterectomy, and it has not spread elsewhere in her body, according to ESPN.

#espn, #evert-dubin-jeanne-1957-2020, #evert-chris, #international-tennis-hall-of-fame, #ovarian-cancer, #tennis

YouTube TV loses ESPN, ABC, and all other Disney-owned channels

Photo illustration showing the YouTube TV logo on a smartphone.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images)

YouTube TV customers have lost access to all Disney-owned channels including ESPN and ABC, as the companies failed to agree on a new contract before the previous one expired last night. YouTube TV customers will automatically get a $15-per-month discount for as long as the Disney channels remain blacked out, reducing the base plan cost from $65 to $50.

“Members, we worked hard to avoid this but were unable to reach a fair deal with Disney,” YouTube TV said. “We regret to share that as of December 17, all Disney-owned channels are unavailable on YouTube TV. While Disney content remains off our platform, we’ll decrease our price by $15/month. We know how frustrating it is to lose channels like ESPN and your local ABC station, and will continue conversations with Disney in hopes of restoring their content for you.”

The list of channels no longer on YouTube TV includes all local ABC channels, ABC News Live, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, SEC Network, and ACC Network. YouTube TV posted details on how credits will be issued on this webpage.

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#abc, #biz-it, #disney, #espn, #policy, #youtube-tv

On ‘The NHL on TNT’ Wayne Gretzky Finds Himself as the Rookie

Turner Sports, new to hockey, wants to give U.S. fans a better viewing experience, using faster cuts and better camera angles, similar to the TV presentation in Canada.

#barkley-charles, #bissonnette-paul, #canada, #espn, #gretzky-wayne, #hockey-ice, #national-hockey-league, #television, #tocchet-rick, #turner-network-television

Paul Salata, Champion of the N.F.L.’s ‘Irrelevant,’ Dies at 94

He created an annual award to honor the player picked last in the college draft, because, he said, “they do their work and should be noticed.”

#deaths-obituaries, #draft-and-recruitment-sports, #espn, #football, #national-football-league, #salata-paul-1926

Jon Gruden Emailed Homophobic and Mysogynistic Comments

A trove of emails in a separate workplace misconduct case show Raiders Coach Jon Gruden went beyond previously disclosed racist comments to issue broad tirades.

#coaches-and-managers, #e-mail, #espn, #football, #goodell-roger, #gruden-jon, #homosexuality-and-bisexuality, #indecency-obscenity-and-profanity, #las-vegas-raiders, #nassib-carl-1993, #national-football-league, #national-football-league-players-assn, #smith-demaurice, #washington-football-team, #women-and-girls

Racist Comment Surfaces By Jon Gruden About DeMaurice Smith

Jon Gruden, the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, used a racist stereotype in 2011 to describe the players’ union president, DeMaurice Smith, who is Black.

#black-people, #coaches-and-managers, #espn, #football, #gruden-jon, #las-vegas-raiders, #national-football-league, #national-football-league-players-assn, #race-and-ethnicity, #smith-demaurice, #washington-football-team

What Time is the Fury vs Wilder Fight?

Fury and Wilder are fighting for the third time, headlining a pay-per-view card that begins at 9 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

#boxing, #espn, #fox-sports, #fury-tyson-1988, #top-rank-inc, #wilder-deontay, #world-boxing-council

The Mannings Give TV Sports Yet Another Alternate Viewing Option

ESPN has the quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning. CBS has the slime and SpongeBob allure of Nickelodeon. A boxing upstart even got Trump. For viewers, it’s ever more options beyond just watching the game.

#abc-inc, #amazon-com-inc, #athletics-and-sports, #cbs-corporation, #espn, #espn2, #football, #manning-eli, #manning-peyton, #national-broadcasting-co, #national-football-league, #television, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming

Carl Nassib Made History, but Also a Big Play

Last week Nassib, 28, became the first openly gay player to compete in an N.F.L. game. Teammates, the news media and observers casually noted the feat, then cheered his game-changing play.

#baltimore-ravens, #carr-derek, #espn, #football, #homosexuality-and-bisexuality, #institute-for-diversity-and-ethics-in-sport, #las-vegas-raiders, #nassib-carl-1993, #national-football-league, #records-and-achievements, #trask-amy, #trevor-project

The N.F.L. Bets on Betting

Gambling on football has come out of the shadows.

#athletics-and-sports, #betfair, #casinos, #espn, #fanduel-com, #football, #football-college, #gambling, #internal-sub-only

What Can Sports Teach Us?

Sports matter, even if you don’t identify as a fan.

#athletics-and-sports, #big-12-conference, #college-athletics, #espn, #football-college, #southeastern-conference, #texas-tech-university, #university-of-oklahoma, #vaccination-and-immunization, #wages-and-salaries

Hulu is raising the price on its on-demand plans by $1 starting Oct. 8

Following last year’s price hike on its Live TV service, Hulu is now preparing to raise prices again. Starting on October 8, 2021, Hulu will raise the price for both its on-demand plans, Hulu and Hulu with No Ads. However, unlike the earlier price hike which had clocked in at $10 more per month for each of its two Live TV plans, the new price increase will be just $1.00.

That means the ad-supported version of Hulu will increase from $5.99 to $6.99 per month, while Hulu with No Ads will increase from $11.99 to $12.99 per month. This will apply to both existing and new subscribers. Hulu says none of the October increases will impact its Live TV service or any plan where Hulu is bundled with Disney+. (Disney took full control of Hulu after buying Comcast’s stake in 2019).

Today, Hulu is offered with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $13.99 per month. This subtle shift in pricing for Hulu’s standalone service may make that bundle look attractive to those not in the market for Hulu’s live TV.

Hulu’s on-demand service accounts for the majority of its subscriber base today. In Disney’s fiscal third quarter earnings, announced last month, Hulu’s subscription video on-demand business had grown 22% year-over-year to reach 39.1 million subscribers, while its Live TV service (which also include the on-demand offerings), had grown just 9% to reach 3.7 million subscribers. Combined, Hulu had 42.8 million total subscribers, up 21% compared to the same period from the prior year.

This is slower growth, however, than Disney+ — that service saw more than 100% year-over-year growth, jumping from 57.7 million subscribers as of Disney’s Q3 2020 to 116 million in Disney’s Q3 2021.

Including Disney’s EPSN+, the company’s direct-to-consumer business had a total of nearly 174 million subscribers by the end of the quarter, the company said.

However, although Hulu trails Disney+ in subscriber count, it’s ahead on average monthly revenue per user (ARPU).

In Q3, ARPU declined from $4.62 to $4.16 due to a higher mix of Disney+ Hotstar subscribers compared with the prior-year quarter, Disney said. Hulu’s on-demand service, meanwhile, saw ARPU climb from $11.39 to $13.15 year-over-year and its Live TV service (+SVOD) grew from $68.11 to $84.09.

Hulu’s on-demand business includes a combination of licensed content and original programming, like newer arrivals “Nine Perfect Strangers,” “Only Murders in the Building,” and “Vacation Friends.” The company also just added thousands of Hotstar Specials and Bollywood hits, as of September 1.


#companies, #disney, #disney-channel, #disney-plus, #espn, #hotstar, #hulu, #hulu-live-tv, #mass-media, #media, #streaming, #streaming-service, #svod, #tc, #television, #the-walt-disney-company, #tv, #video

ESPN Cancels Nichols’s Show After Her Remarks About a Colleague

Rachel Nichols said in a recorded conversation that Maria Taylor, who is Black, was tabbed to host 2020 N.B.A. finals coverage because the network “felt pressure” on diversity.

#basketball, #discrimination, #espn, #nichols-rachel, #taylor-maria-1987, #television

For Volunteer Umpires, Little League World Series in the Pinnacle

The players dream of nationally televised glory. But for the nervous and excited volunteer umpires, the goal is to go unnoticed.

#espn, #little-league-baseball-and-softball, #little-league-world-series, #officiating-sports, #williamsport-pa

Disney+ beats expectations to reach 116 million subscribers in Q3

Disney’s streaming service is seeing improved growth, after initially seeing slower numbers of subscriber additions in Q2 as COVID lockdowns and mask mandates came to an end. Today, Disney+ beat analyst expectations for subscriber growth in Disney’s blowout third quarter, reaching 116 million paid subscribers — above the 114.5 million Wall Street had expected — and up over 100% year-over-year.

Disney also topped expectations across the board, with $17.02 billion in revenue versus the $16.76 billion expected, and earnings per share of 80 cents, above analysts’ expectations of 55 cents. Even Disney Parks were back in business. 

The pandemic had thrown a wrench in forecasting growth metrics across a number of industries, streaming included. Although Disney+ has well-established itself as one of the few competitors capable of challenging Netflix in an increasingly crowded market, it has seen some ups and downs due to COVID impacts. In the earlier days of the pandemic, streaming was on the rise. This March, Disney+ passed 100 million subscribers after just 16 months of operation. At the time, Disney execs said the service was on track to meet its projections of 260 million subscribers by 2024.

But in Disney’s second-quarter earnings, the economy’s re-opening impacted Disney+ numbers, as people finally had more to do than just sit at home, and vaccinations become more widely available. Then, Disney+ only reached 103.6 million subscribers, when analysts were expecting 109.3 million, and the stock slipped as a result.

Disney wasn’t alone in feeling the impacts of COVID-induced lumpiness in subscriber additions. Netflix had also seen slower subscriber growth earlier in the year due to COVID and its far-reaching effects on things like production delays and release schedules.

But Netflix’s most recent quarter, where it once again topped subscriber estimates, had hinted that Disney+ may see a similar boost. Aiding in that growth was Disney+’s recent market expansions in Asia. Disney+ Hotstar arrived in Malaysia and Thailand in June after prior launches in India and Indonesia last year.

The Hotstar version of Disney+, however, led to lowered average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) in the quarter due to its lower price points. In Q3, ARPU declined from $4.62 to $4.16 due to a higher mix of Disney+ Hotstar subscribers compared with the prior-year quarter, Disney said.

Disney’s other streaming services, Hulu and ESPN+, didn’t see the same trend.

Hulu’s subscription video service jumped from $11.39 to $13.15 year-over-year and its Live TV service (+SVOD) grew from $68.11 to $84.09. ESPN+ also grew from $4.18 to $4.47.

Subscriber growth also increased across the services, with ESPN+ growing 75% year-over-year to reach 14.9 million customers and total Hulu subscribers growing 21% to reach 42.8 million.

“…Our direct-to-consumer business is performing very well, with a total of nearly 174 million subscriptions across Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu at the end of the quarter, and a host of new content coming to the platform,” noted Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a press release.

Across Disney’s direct-to-consumer business, revenues grew 57% to $4.3 billion and its operating loss declined from $0.6 billion to $0.3 billion, thanks to improved results from Hulu, including subscription growth and higher ad revenues.

These gains were offset by a higher loss at Disney+ attributed to programming, production, marketing and technology costs that were somewhat mitigated by increases in subscription revenues and success of the Disney+ Premier Access release of “Cruella.” (Disney’s fiscal quarter ended July 3, so the impacts of the massive haul that “Black Widow” saw following its U.S. opening — nor the resulting lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, for that matter — have yet to be included in these figures.)

#asia, #bob-chapek, #disney, #disney-plus, #e-commerce, #espn, #hotstar, #hulu, #india, #indonesia, #malaysia, #mass-media, #media, #netflix, #scarlett-johansson, #streaming-services, #thailand, #the-walt-disney-company

A Storm at ESPN Over Rachel Nichols Comments on Maria Taylor

In comments still rippling through the network, the reporter Rachel Nichols, who is white, said Maria Taylor, who is Black, earned the job to host 2020 N.B.A. finals coverage because ESPN was “feeling pressure” on diversity.

#athletics-and-sports, #basketball, #black-people, #careers-and-professions, #espn, #hiring-and-promotion, #internal-storyline-no, #nichols-rachel, #pitaro-james-a, #race-and-ethnicity, #rose-jalen, #taylor-maria, #television, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #wojnarowski-adrian, #women-and-girls, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

YouTube TV adds a $20 monthly upgrade for 4K support, offline viewing

With less than a month to go before the Olympics kick off in Tokyo, cord-cutting services like YouTube TV are attempting to woo new subscribers who are looking for a way to watch summer sports. But whether or not you’re eager to watch Simone Biles defy gravity, YouTube TV’s latest upgrades enhance the product with audio and video improvements. Today, YouTube TV announced a 4K Plus add-on package with offline downloads, 5.1 Dolby audio, and features that make it easier to watch live sports. The company previously teased these features in February.

YouTube TV is already one of the pricier streaming services out there — at $64.99 per month, you might not save much money by choosing YouTube in lieu of your cable service. Hulu + Live TV is priced the same, but offers a Disney+ and ESPN+ add-on for a total of $72.99 per month. But if you want to kick your video quality (and your monthly bill) up a notch, you can now enable 4K streaming for an extra $19.99 per month, bringing your grand total to $84.98 monthly.

The 4K Plus add-on package will also allow subscribers to download shows from DVR to watch offline — currently, that’s not possible on the standard $64.99 per month package. Subscribers will be able to try out the package for free for a month, then pay $9.99 per month for a year before the price increases to $19.99. This is pretty consistent with YouTube TV’s continual price hikes over the years.

Meanwhile, the 5.1 Dolby audio capabilities will be a free addition for all YouTube TV members — in a blog post, the company says this has been one of users’ “biggest requests.” Over the coming weeks, these surround-sound audio capabilities will begin rolling out to select devices. The sports upgrades also come at no additional cost — one new feature will let viewers jump to key plays and specific highlight moments when watching a DVR recording or trying to catch up live. So, if you’re tuning in an hour late, you can view key moments from the game, then jump right in live. YouTube TV will also let users search for specific sports to add to their DVR, which has no storage space limit. So, again, if you’re determined not to miss a single Simone Biles floor routine, it will be easier to make sure you’re in the loop. There will also be a Medal count view during the Olympics within the app.

As the Olympics draw nearer, we can expect other cord-cutting services to up the ante on their live sports offerings — the $9.99 monthly Paramount+ Premium plan includes a wide range of international soccer matches, but no word on the Olympics yet. Still, the service is far less expensive than YouTube TV and already offers 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision. YouTube TV had 3 million subscribers as of October 2020, but did not offer an update for Q1 of 2021. As of March, Hulu had 4.1 million subscribers to its Live TV service, which will also air the Olympics.

#apps, #computing, #digital-television, #entertainment, #espn, #hulu, #mass-media, #olympics, #paramount, #tokyo, #video-hosting, #youtube, #youtube-tv

Apple introduces SharePlay for co-watching, streaming, and screen sharing over FaceTime

As part of its FaceTime update in iOS 15, Apple introduced a new set of features designed for shared experiences — like co-watching TV shows or TikTok videos, listening to music together, screen sharing and more — while on a FaceTime call. The feature, called SharePlay, enables real-time connections with family and friends while you’re hanging out on FaceTime, Apple explained, by integrating access to apps from within the call itself.

Image Credits: Apple

Apple demonstrated the new feature during its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote this afternoon, showing how friends could press play in Apple Music to listen together, as the music streams to everyone on the call. Shared playback controls also let anyone on the call play, pause or jump to the next track.

The company also showed off watching video from its Apple TV+ streaming service, where the video was synced in real-time between call participants. This was a popular trend during the pandemic, as people looked to virtually watch movies and TV with family and friends, prompting services like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video to add native co-watching features.

But Apple’s SharePlay goes much further than streaming music and video from just Apple’s own services.

The company announced a set of launch partners for SharePlay including Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, NBA, Twitch, TikTok, MasterClass, ESPN+, Paramount+, and Pluto TV. It’s also making an API available to developers so they can integrate their own apps with SharePlay.

Image Credits: Apple

Users can screen share via SharePlay, too, so you can do things like browse Zillow listings together or show off a mobile gameplay, Apple suggested.

“Screen sharing is also a simple and super effective way to help someone out and answer questions right in the moment, and it works across Apple devices,” noted Apple SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi.

The feature will roll out with iOS 15.

read more about Apple's WWDC 2021 on TechCrunch

#amazon-prime-video, #api, #apple-inc, #apple-music, #apple-tv, #apps, #computing, #craig-federighi, #disney, #espn, #facetime, #hbo, #hulu, #ios, #itunes, #mobile-applications, #national-basketball-association, #nba, #software, #technology, #tiktok, #twitch, #wwdc-2021, #zillow

L.A. Times Names Kevin Merida Executive Editor

One of the biggest newspaper jobs goes to a groundbreaking journalist who spent two decades at The Washington Post.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #espn, #los-angeles-calif, #los-angeles-times, #merida-kevin-1957, #news-and-news-media, #newspapers, #pearlstine-norman, #soon-shiong-patrick, #undefeated-the-web-site, #washington-post

N.H.L. and Turner Sports Reach 7-Year Media Rights Deal

Turner Sports will broadcast half of each year’s playoffs and three Stanley Cup finals, and plans to bring games to the HBO Max streaming service.

#espn, #hbo-max, #hockey-ice, #national-hockey-league, #tbs-network, #television, #turner-network-television, #walt-disney-company, #warner-media-llc, #zucker-jeff

Biden Says He Would Support Moving All-Star Game Over Georgia Voting Law

In an interview on ESPN, President Biden discussed the restrictions passed by the state’s Republicans last week and encouraged baseball fans to abide by social-distancing protocols.

#baseball, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #espn, #georgia, #law-and-legislation, #major-league-baseball, #stadiums-and-arenas, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters

Apple invests $50M into music distributor UnitedMasters alongside A16z and Alphabet

Independent music distribution platform and tool factory UnitedMasters has raised a $50M series B round led by Apple. A16z and Alphabet are participating again in this raise. United Masters is also entering a strategic partnership with Apple alongside this investment. 

If you’re unfamiliar with UnitedMasters, it’s a distribution company launched in 2017 by Steve Stoute, a former Interscope and Sony Music executive. The focus of UnitedMasters is to provide artists with a direct pipeline to data around the way that fans are interacting with their content and community, allowing them to connect more directly to offer tickets, merchandise and other commercial efforts. UnitedMasters also generally allows artists to retain control of their own masters.

Neither of these conditions are at all typical in the music industry. In a typical artist deal, recording companies retain all audience and targeting data as well as masters. This limits an artist’s ability to be agile, taking advantage of new technologies to foster a community. 

While Apple does invest in various companies, it typically does so out of its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to promote US manufacturing or strategically in partners that make critical components of its hardware like silicon foundries or glass manufacturing. Apple does a lot more purchasing than investing, typically, buying a company every few weeks or so to supplement one product effort or another. UnitedMasters, then, would be a relatively unique partnership, especially in the music space. 

I spoke to UnitedMasters CEO Steve Stoute about the deal and what it means for the businesses 1M current artists and new ones. Stoute credits Apple executive Eddy Cue having a philosophy aligned with the UnitedMasters vision with getting this deal done. 

“We want all artists to have the same opportunity,” says Stoute. “Currently, independent artists have less opportunity for success and we’re trying to remove that stigma.”

This infusion, Stoute says, will be used to hire talent that are mission oriented to take UnitedMasters global. They’re seeking local technical talent and artists talent to build out the platform worldwide. 

“Every artist needs access to a CTO,” Stoute says. “Some of the value of what a manager is today for an artist needs to be transferred to that role.”

UnitedMasters wants to provide that technical edge at scale, allowing artists to build out their fanbase at a community level.

Currently, UnitedMasters has deals with the NBA, ESPN, TikTok, Twitch and others that allow artists to tap big brand deals that would normally be brokered by a label and manager. It also has a direct distribution app that allows publishing to all of the major streaming services. Most importantly, they can check stream, fan and earnings data at a glance. 

“Steve Stoute and UnitedMasters provide creators with more opportunities to advance their careers and bring their music to the world,” said Apple’s Eddy Cue in a release statement. “The contributions of independent artists play a significant role in driving the continued growth and success of the music industry, and UnitedMasters, like Apple, is committed to empowering creators.”

“UnitedMasters has completely transformed the way artists create, retain ownership in their work, and connect with their fans,” said Ben Horowitz, Co-Founder and General Partner of Andreessen Horowitz in a release. “We are excited to work with Steve and team to build a better, bigger, and far more profitable world for musical artists.” 

We are currently at an inflection point in the way that artists and fans connect with one another. Though there have been seemingly endless ways for artists to get their messages out or speak to fans using social media and other platforms, the actual business of distributing work to a community and making money from that work has been out of their hands completely since the beginning of the recording industry. Recent developments like NFTs, DAOs and social tokens, as well as an explosion of DTC frameworks have begun to re-write that deal. But the major players have yet to make the truly aggressive strides they need to in order to embrace this ‘artist centric’ new world. 

The mechanics of distribution have been based on a framework defined by DRM and the DMCA for decades. This framework was always marketed as a way to protect value for the artist but was in fact architected to protect value for the distributor. We need a rethinking of the entire distribution layer.

As I mentioned when reporting the UnitedMasters + TikTok deal, it’s going to be instrumental in a more equitable future for artists:

It’s beyond time for the creators of The Culture to benefit from that culture. That’s why I find this UnitedMasters deal so interesting. Offering a direct pipeline to audiences without the attendant vulture-ism of the recording industry apparatus is really well-aligned with a platform like TikTok, which encourages and enables “viral sounds” with collaborative performances. Traditional deal structures are not well-suited to capturing viral hype, which can rise and fall within weeks without additional fuel.

In music, Apple is at the center of this maelstrom along with a few other major players like Spotify. One of the big misses in recent years for Apple Music, in my opinion, was Apple’s failure to turn Apple Music Connect into an industry-standard portal that allowed artists to connect broadly with fans, distribute directly, sell tickets and merchandise but — most importantly — to foster and own their community. 

A UnitedMasters tie up isn’t a straight line to that goal, but it’s definitely got the ingredients. I’m looking forward to seeing what this produces. 

Image Credits: Steve Stoute

#advanced-manufacturing-fund, #alphabet, #andreessen-horowitz, #apple, #apple-inc, #apple-music, #apple-store, #artist, #ben-horowitz, #ceo, #co-founder, #companies, #cto, #eddy-cue, #espn, #executive, #general-partner, #manufacturing, #music-industry, #national-basketball-association, #nba, #operating-systems, #social-media, #software, #sony-music, #spotify, #steve-stoute, #streaming-services, #tc, #twitch, #united-states, #unitedmasters

N.F.L. Signs Media Deals Worth Over $100 Billion

The new deals with broadcasters and streaming services pave the way for team owners to add a 17th regular season game to the schedule and to recoup revenue lost with reduced fan attendance in 2020.

#amazon-com-inc, #cbs-corporation, #espn, #football, #fox-broadcasting-co, #national-football-league, #national-football-league-players-assn, #smith-demaurice, #television

Mike Pearl, Innovative TV Sports Producer, Is Dead at 77

A winner of 16 Sport Emmy Awards, he produced the groundbreaking pregame show “The NFL Today” and the highest-rated Olympics ever, the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, at CBS.

#abc-sports, #athletics-and-sports, #cbs-sports, #deaths-obituaries, #espn, #inside-the-nba-tv-program, #olympic-games, #pearl-mike, #television, #the-nfl-today-tv-program, #turner-broadcasting-system-inc

N.H.L. Returns to ESPN in a 7-Year Deal With an Emphasis on Streaming

The agreement assures hockey a higher profile on SportsCenter and gives ESPN the perfect sport for its streaming ambitions

#abc-inc, #bettman-gary, #disney-plus, #espn, #hockey-ice, #national-hockey-league, #nbcuniversal, #sportscenter-tv-program, #television, #walt-disney-company

Pedro Gomez, a Pillar of Baseball Coverage for ESPN, Dies at 58

A son of Cuban refugees, he covered 25 World Series and 22 All-Star Games.

#baseball, #cuba, #deaths-obituaries, #espn, #news-and-news-media, #pedro-gomez, #television

Washington Post, Reuters and Los Angeles Times Search for New Top Editors

In an industrywide changing of the guard, other big newsroom jobs that have come open include the No. 1 slots at Vox, HuffPost and Wired.

#adler-stephen-j, #appointments-and-executive-changes, #associated-press, #baquet-dean, #baron-martin-d, #brown-tina, #buzzfeed-inc, #chan-sewell, #conde-nast-publications-inc, #espn, #huffington-post, #ishmael-stacy-marie, #lacey-marc, #los-angeles-times, #magazines, #merida-kevin-1957, #min-janice, #new-york-times, #news-and-news-media, #newspapers, #patel-nilay, #pearlstine-norman, #peretti-jonah-h, #reuters-group-plc, #ryan-carolyn, #ryan-frederick-j-jr, #turner-julia, #verge-the-vox-media-llc, #vox-media-inc, #washington-post, #wired-magazine

SEC Reaches $3 Billion Deal With Disney, Drawing CBS Ties Toward an End

The Southeastern Conference is poised to become the richest conference in college football after it struck a television deal with Disney, which owns ABC and ESPN.

#abc-inc, #cbs-corporation, #college-athletics, #espn, #football-college, #southeastern-conference, #television, #walt-disney-company

Disney+ has plans for 10 Marvel shows and 10 Star Wars shows in the next few years

Disney just wrapped up the first segment of an investor day in which it laid out its plans for its direct-to-consumer streaming business, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Hotstar/Star.

The company kicked off the presentation with some new subscriber numbers — 86.8 million for Disney+ (roughly 30% of those are subscribers to Disney+ Hotstar, which leveraged an existing streaming service in India), 38.8 million for Hulu and 11.5 million for ESPN+, adding up to more than 137 million subscribers across the company’s streaming business.

The rest of the event is expected to focus on content announcements and previews, but Chairman of Media and Entertainment Distribution Kareem Daniels has already hinted at big plans for the next “few years.”

While high-profile Disney+’s originals have largely been limited to “The Mandalorian” and “Hamilton” in year one, Daniels said the company has plans to launch 10 Marvel series, 10 Star Wars series, 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar series and 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar feature films exclusively on Disney+.

At the same time, Daniels said that Disney remains committed to a variety of distribution strategies, particularly “theatrical exhibition’s ability to establish major franchises.”

He also announced that the Disney Animation film “Raya and the Dragon” will follow the same distribution strategy as “Mulan” this fall, with the film launching simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ as a Premier Access release that subscribers will need to pay extra to see.

The presentation also made it clear that the Hotstar/Star brand will be key to Disney’s international growth plans. In Latin America, the company plans to launch a standalone Star+ service, while a new Star section in the Disney+ app will become the home to “general entertainment” content (basically, the kinds of content that U.S. viewers will find on Hulu) in other markets like Europe.

Adding a Star section will mean introducing mature content to Disney+, which was previously limited to family-friendly content. So Disney also offered a quick demonstration of new parental controls that will allow subscribers to turn access to more mature content on and off — that should also introduce new content to other parts of Disney+, for example bringing the R-rated film “Logan” to the Marvel section.

You can also expect to see more integrations between different Disney streaming services. For example, Star+ will include content from ESPN, while Hulu will introduce the ability to subscribe and watch ESPN+ content directly in the app.

And if you’re a subscriber to the Disney bundle, which combines Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month, the company plans to add a new tier in January that offers ad-free Hulu for an extra $6 per month.

#disney, #entertainment, #espn, #hulu, #media, #the-walt-disney-company

Dan Le Batard to Leave ESPN

Le Batard, a radio- and television-show host, had recently criticized his bosses for laying off one of his producers, and he has bashed the network’s reluctance to allow commentary on politics.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #athletics-and-sports, #espn, #le-batard-dan, #television

The Masters Rules During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Explained

A lot. No sporting event does springtime iconography like the Masters. But many of its traditions have been altered as men’s golf’s first major moved to fall.

#augusta-ga, #augusta-national-golf-club, #cbs-corporation, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #espn, #golf, #masters-golf-tournament, #mickelson-phil, #television, #woods-tiger

ESPN to Lay Off 300 Employees

The cuts will affect most divisions across the company, but are especially concentrated in broadcast production.

#espn, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #pitaro-james-a, #walt-disney-company

Psykhe secures Seed funding to match consumer personalities to fashion products

In an overcrowded market of online fashion brands, consumers are spoilt for choice on what site to visit. They are generally forced to visit each brand one by one, manually filtering down to what they like. Most of the experience is not that great, and past purchase history and cookies aren’t much to go on to tailor user experience. If someone has bought an army-green military jacket, the e-commerce site is on a hiding to nothing if all it suggests is more army-green military jackets…

Instead, Psycke ( it’s brand name is ‘PSYKHE’) is an e-commerce startup that uses AI and psychology to make product recommendations based both on the user’s personality profile and the ‘personality’ of the products. Admittedly, a number of startups have come and gone claiming this, but it claims to have taken a unique approach to make the process of buying fashion easier by acting as an aggregator that pulls products from all leading fashion retailers. Each user sees a different storefront that, says the company, becomes increasingly personalized.

It has now raised $1.7 million in seed funding from a range of investors and is announcing new plans to scale its technology to other consumer verticals in the future in the B2B space.

The investors are Carmen Busquets – the largest founding investor in Net-a-Porter; SLS Journey – the new investment arm of the MadaLuxe Group, the North American distributor of luxury fashion; John Skipper – DAZN Chairman and former Co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and President of ESPN; and Lara Vanjak – Chief Operating Officer at Aser Ventures, formerly at MP & Silva and FC Inter-Milan.

So what does it do? As a B2C aggregator, it pools inventory from leading retailers. The platform then applies machine learning and personality-trait science, and tailors product recommendations to users based on a personality test taken on sign-up. The company says it has international patents pending and has secured affiliate partnerships with leading retailers that include Moda Operandi, MyTheresa, LVMH’s platform 24S, and 11 Honoré.

The business model is based around an affiliate partnership model, where it makes between 5-25% of each sale. It also plans to expand into B2B for other consumer verticals in the future, providing a plug-in product that allows users to sort items by their personality.

How does this personality test help? Well, Psykhe has assigned an overall psychological profile to the actual products themselves: over 1 million products from commerce partners, using machine learning (based on training data).

So for example, if a leather boot had metal studs on it (thus looking more ‘rebellious’), it would get a moderate-low rating on the trait of ‘Agreeableness’. A pink floral dress would get a higher score on that trait. A conservative tweed blazer would get a lower score tag on the trait of ‘Openness’, as tweed blazers tend to indicate a more conservative style and thus nature.

So far, Psykhe’s retail partnerships include Moda Operandi, MyTheresa, LVMH’s platform 24S, Outdoor Voices, Jimmy Choo, Coach, and size-inclusive platform 11 Honoré.

It’s competitors include The Yes and Lyst. However, Psykhe’s main point of differentiation is this personality scoring. Furthermore, The Yes is app-only, US-only, and only partners with monobrands, while Lyst is an aggregator with 1,000s of brands, but used as more of a search platform.

Psykhe is in a good position to take advantage of the ongoing effects of COVID-19, which continue to give a major boost to global ecommerce as people flood online amid lockdowns.

The startup is the brainchild of Anabel Maldonado, CEO & founder, (along with founding team CTO Will Palmer and Lead Data Scientist, Rene-Jean Corneille, pictured above), who studied psychology in her hometown of Toronto, but ended up working at in the UK’s NHS in a specialist team that made developmental diagnoses for children under 5.

She made a pivot into fashion after winning a competition for an editorial mentorship at British Marie Claire. She later went to the press department of Christian Louboutin, followed by internships at the Mail on Sunday and Marie Claire, then spending several years in magazine publishing before moving into e-commerce at CoutureLab. Going freelance, she worked with a number of luxury brands and platforms as an editorial consultant. As a fashion journalist, she’s contributed industry op-eds to publications such as The Business of Fashion, T The New York Times Style, and Marie Claire.

As part of the fashion industry for 10 years, she says she became frustrated with the narratives which “made fashion seem more frivolous than it really is. I thought, this is a trillion-dollar industry, we all have such emotional, visceral reactions to an aesthetic based on who we are, but all we keep talking about is the ‘hot new color for fall and so-called blanket “must-haves’.”

But, she says, “there was no inquiry into individual differences. This world was really missing the level of depth it deserved, and I sought to demonstrate that we’re all sensitive to aesthetic in one way or another and that our clothing choices have a great psychological pay-off effect on us, based on our unique internal needs.” So she set about creating a startup to address this ‘fashion psychology’ – or, as she says “why we wear what we wear”.

#artificial-intelligence, #business, #ceo, #chairman, #chief-operating-officer, #coach, #companies, #e-commerce, #espn, #europe, #fashion, #lvmh, #lyst, #machine-learning, #milan, #moda-operandi, #nhs, #outdoor-voices, #president, #tc, #toronto, #united-kingdom, #united-states

After the Grand Slams, Tennis Plots Its Growth Plan

Tournaments that have battled for airtime on ESPN for years are headed for the Tennis Channel. Can the sport grow with a lesser presence on the top sports networks?

#assn-of-tennis-professionals, #espn, #french-open-tennis, #tennis, #tennis-channel-the, #united-states-open-tennis, #womens-tennis-assn

Jalen Rose’s N.B.A. Finals Diary: ‘I Can’t Wait for the Game’

The ESPN analyst is enthralled by the 2020 series, with players isolating and “Black Lives Matter” painted on the court.

#basketball, #espn, #national-basketball-assn, #nba-championship, #rose-jalen, #television

Baseball’s September Madness: 8 Postseason Games in One ‘Crazy’ Day

“It’s going to be mad,” Astros Manager Dusty Baker said of an unprecedented playoff marathon on Wednesday.

#baker-dusty, #baseball, #espn, #major-league-baseball, #ncaa-basketball-championships-men, #playoff-games

How the N.B.A. Bubble Brought Jeff and Stan Van Gundy Closer Together

“Some days, it’s heavy talk about the future of the world,” said Jeff Van Gundy, an ESPN commentator. “We talk about everything and solve nothing.”

#basketball, #espn, #national-basketball-assn, #television, #turner-network-television, #van-gundy-jeff, #van-gundy-stan

A U.S. Open Missing Fans and Stars: Was It Worth It?

No Federer or Nadal, and so many top women taking a pass, plus a fracas with the French, but the United States Tennis Association needed to hold this tournament and has no regrets.

#ashe-arthur-stadium, #dowse-michael-sports-executive, #espn, #kalinina-anhelina-1997, #osaka-naomi-1997, #quarantines, #tennis, #thiem-dominic, #united-states-open-tennis, #united-states-tennis-assn

TikTok’s big UnitedMasters deal is the way forward for creators looking to secure their bag

TikTok is right in the jaws of a thorny situation with the U.S. Government regarding its ownership, but it’s sending a clear message today that it is not sitting on its heels with big deals. Yesterday, it announced a deal with UnitedMasters to allow artists on TikTok to distribute their songs directly to streaming services and other partners directly.

UnitedMasters is the un-record-label label — in fact a direct distribution company founded by former president of Interscope Records, Steve Stoute. The firm allows musicians (especially budding ones) to pay a competitive distribution rate to get access to Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud, Apple Music and other services. It also gets them access to analytics, retargeting, CRM tools and individual deals that UM makes with brands like ESPN and the NBA.

Normally, the path between an artist being able to go viral on TikTok and be included in the next NBA 2k or before an official game on the air would be a long one involving a lot of knives out for pieces of the pie. UnitedMasters shortcuts all of this.

The simple scenario is this:

  • An aspiring artist or songwriter puts out a song or riff on TikTok (likely one of many).
  • This one has something and it catches on the algorithm and generates numbers.
  • The creator opts in to participating in UnitedMasters’ program.
  • They give up a cut of 10% but get direct distribution into the major streaming buckets and potential A-grade partners. (There’s also a $5/mo subscription option.)
  • They can also market things like tickets, merch and more directly to fans using UM’s customer tools.
  • The artist keeps 100% of their royalties.

Which is why a tie up with TikTok makes a hell of a lot of sense. One of the biggest issues with viral social platforms has been the way that they reward creators. Twitter’s Vine, of course, squandered their opportunity there. Even YouTube has had major problems providing consistent revenue to many of its top creators, with a long trend towards big hitters monetizing off platform in order to earn consistent, durable money.

TikTok has already announced a creators fund with a significant purse, but it needs to go beyond that. We’ve seen over and over how young creators on the platform create viral waves of attention for TikTok and millions of re-enactments and remixes. Often, though, those creators are offered little recourse to monetize or benefit from their creations. Dance creators and musical talents, often young Black women, are literally crafting culture in real-time on TikTok and the pathways for them to benefit materially are very rare. Sure, it’s great when an originator gets called out by a Times reporter willing to do the work to trace the source, but what about the thousands of others being minted as a real voice on the platform every month?

It’s beyond time for the creators of The Culture to benefit from that culture. That’s why I find this UnitedMasters deal so interesting. Offering a direct pipeline to audiences without the attendant vulture-ism of the recording industry apparatus is really well aligned with a platform like TikTok, which encourages and enables ‘viral sounds’ with collaborative performances. Traditional deal structures are not well suited to capturing viral hype, which can rise and fall within weeks without additional fuel.

In terms of overall platforms, TikTok clearly has the highest concentration of incredible and un-tapped musical talent on the market. It’s just wild how many creators I see on there that are just flat out as good if not better than what you hear on the radio. Opera, rap, soul, folk, comedy, songwriting, it runs the gamut.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer came to the company after a long stint at Disney ending with a very successful Disney+ launch. Almost immediately, he was dropped into a political firestorm between China and the U.S. government. Parent company ByteDance must sell within 90 days, says Trump, or get shut down. Microsoft might buy them. Other tech companies are circling. This deal is a pretty crisp forward-looking signal that TikTok sees a way through this and is not waiting to innovate on one of the trickier components of this era of user generated businesses.

And on top of that, it charts a course for how user generated platforms should look to service creators and keep them in their universe. All UGC plays garner significant value from the creative energies of their users, but few have found a way to make that relationship reciprocal in a way that feels sustainable.

This UnitedMasters deal feels different, and the start of a larger trend that could pay big dividends to platforms and, finally, creators.

#apple-music, #artist, #byte, #bytedance, #ceo, #china, #computing, #crm, #disney, #espn, #kevin-mayer, #microsoft, #national-basketball-association, #nba, #president, #software, #soundcloud, #spotify, #steve-stoute, #tc, #tiktok, #trump, #u-s-government, #united-states, #unitedmasters, #video-hosting, #vine

Verizon adds free Hulu and ESPN+ to some unlimited wireless plans

Verizon and Disney announced this morning that they’re extending and expanding a partnership that gives some Verizon Wireless subscribers access to Disney’s streaming services at no addition charge.

The companies announced last fall that Verizon (which owns TechCrunch) would be offering free Disney+ to unlimited wireless customers, and on an earnings call in February, Disney’s then-CEO Bob Iger said that around 20% of Disney+ subscribers came from Verizon.

More recently, the entertainment giant said that Disney+ had more than 60.5 million subscribers as of August 3. In comparison, Hulu had 35.5 million subscribers at the end of its most recent quarter (June 26), while ESPN+ had 8.5 million subscribers.

With today’s announcement, subscribers to Verizon’s Play More and Get More Unlimited wireless plans will get free access to not just Disney+, but also Hulu and ESPN+. (Plus, Apple Music.) Disney normally charges $12.99 when these three streaming services are purchased together as The Disney Bundle.

“The addition of The Disney Bundle to our agreement with Verizon reinforces our commitment to providing their subscribers with access to high-quality entertainment from Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+,” said Disney’s executive vice president of platform distribution Sean Breen in a statement. “We are always looking for the most advantageous ways for consumers to experience our content and we are pleased to work with Verizon so that they can provide their customers with these appealing new offers.”


#disney, #entertainment, #espn, #hulu, #media, #tc, #the-walt-disney-company, #verizon

Postponed College Football Games Could Disrupt $1 Billion in TV Ads

Fox and Disney, which owns ESPN and ABC, prepare to take another hit from a pandemic that has already affected them with shutdowns and delays.

#advertising-and-marketing, #big-ten-conference, #colleges-and-universities, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #espn, #football, #football-college, #fox-broadcasting-co, #pacific-12-conference, #television, #walt-disney-company

Disney+ grows to more than 60.5M subscribers

Disney+ had more than 60.5 million paying subscribers as of yesterday, according to The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Chapek.

Chapek shared the number during a call to discuss the company’s latest earnings report, which covered the company’s most recent quarter ending on June 27. He was essentially offering an update on the 57.5 million paid subscriber figure included in the report, and he said the growth is “far exceeding our initial projections for the service.”

Disney+ launched in November of last year. The company previously announced in April that the service had passed 50 million subscribers. (Those numbers include subscribers acquired through bundling with Hotstar in India, as well as free subscribers through a promotion with TechCrunch’s parent company Verizon.)

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated growth for some streaming services. Most notably, Netflix added more than 10 million new subscribers in its most recent quarter, bringing its global total to nearly 193 million. As for Disney’s other streaming services, ESPN+ has grown more than 100% year-over-year to 8.5 million subscribers (as of June 26), while Hulu grew 27% to 35.5 million subscribers (3.4 million of them are paying for both video on demand and live TV).

And Disney+ may have gotten an additional bump, thanks to the release of “Hamilton” over the July 4 weekend.

Overall, Disney said revenue for its direct-to-consumer and international division increased 2% year-over-year, to $4.0 billion, while the unit’s operating loss grew from $562 million to $706 million.

Still, streaming likely counts as a relative bright spot compared to many of Disney’s other businesses that have either slowed or paused entirely due to the pandemic. (Parks are gradually reopening, for example.) The company’s total revenue fell 42% YOY to $11.8 billion, and earnings per share for the quarter showed a loss of $2.61.

Update: During the call, Chapek also announced that “Mulan” will be released on Disney+ on September 4, as a “premiere access” title that costs an additional $29.99.

#disney, #disney-plus, #entertainment, #espn, #hulu, #media, #the-walt-disney-company

ESPN Employees Say Racism Endures Behind the Camera

In meetings and conversations among colleagues, ESPN employees have criticized the career pipeline and diversity of top leadership, eliciting a promise from executives to do better.

#athletics-and-sports, #black-people, #corporations, #discrimination, #espn, #hill-jemele, #hiring-and-promotion, #minorities, #news-and-news-media, #race-and-ethnicity, #skipper-john, #smith-stephen-a, #sportscenter-tv-program, #television

ESPN Suspends N.B.A. Reporter for Vulgar Reply to Senator

Adrian Wojnarowski, who is known for his “Woj bombs” of breaking news, emailed a different kind to a U.S. senator.

#basketball, #espn, #national-basketball-assn, #wojnarowski-adrian

Kaepernick’s Deal With Disney Includes a Jemele Hill Project at ESPN

A first-look deal between Colin Kaepernick and Disney includes a documentary series at ESPN that will be produced by Jemele Hill, who left the network two years ago.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #documentary-films-and-programs, #espn, #football, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #hill-jemele, #iger-robert-a, #kaepernick-colin, #race-and-ethnicity, #united-states-national-anthem-protests-2016, #walt-disney-company