Astronauts Wanted, the new digital production company started by Sony and former MTV big Judy McGrath, announced at its NewFront that it's partnering with Snarled to start on online video incubator program. It will go searching for pilots that will then get tested online. Snarled specializes in programming for Gen Z women.
The Cannes Film Festival has decided to include two Netflix movies -- “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” -- despite opposition. As Variety reports: “The festival’s board had convened a meeting Tuesday to discuss the possibility of yanking both films from competition, as recommended by France’s exhibitors’ association, which is represented on the board.”
CBS and its affiliate board announced an agreement that will create more opportunities for affiliates to be part of OTT platforms like Hulu, YouTube TV and others. Separately CBS said that Via CBS All Access, viewers in 90% of the country can receive their local station's signal live via the service.
The Hollywood Reporter
Studio71’s Rhett & Link and Lilly Singh and its Family Fun Pack will all add new shows to their existing channels, it announced at its unusual NewFronts presentation, which was streamed rather than presented live. It is also working on a pilot with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's production company.
Jordan Levin, one of the early architects of the old WB Network's strategy aimed at young adult viewers, has been named CEO of AwesomenessTV replacing Brian Robbins, the founder of the youth-oriented digital platform powerhouse aimed at younger viewers. Levin most recently was the NFL's chief content officer. Before that he worked on Xbox Studios with Nancy Tellem, that Microsoft collapsed before it could launch. Mic
Pandora is taking $150 million from private-equity firm KKR & Co., Bloomberg reports. Additionally, “Richard Sarnoff, who oversees KKR’s media and communications holdings in the Americas, will join the board,” it writes. More broadly, “Pandora struggling with widening losses and a tepid outlook for its online music business.”
Wall Street Journal
Amazon is reportedly readying an Echo speaker with a screen for video calling. “The new device, which is expected to be announced as early as Tuesday, will also allow users to make internet-based telephone calls,” The Wall Street Journal writes, citing sources. “Equipped with a 7-inch touch screen, the device will be able to visually summon answers to verbal questions.”
Diego Scotti, the Verizon CMO, talks tough about competing with Facebook and YouTube and says, "When you think about Google in terms of search, when you think about Facebook and social interaction, there’s not really a player that has put content at the center of the equation. That’s what we will be challenging ourselves to do."
Wall Street Journal
Is ad supported streaming where things are headed? Tubi TV just raised $20 million in new funding to support its ad-driven content OTT site.
It's not just Snapchat and Google. According to Business Insider, Facebook is planning to launch two dozen or so shows in mid-June, most of them short in length but a few that resemble TV in the length of episodes and content.