MarketCast Buys Invoke, Research Firm Featured in MPN’s 2021 Power Marketing Issue

Invoke, a Boston-based market research company featured in last year’s Power Marketing issue of Media Play News, has been sold to MarketCast, another research firm.

Invoke is a research and content testing platform that serves many of the world’s top video streaming services and broadcasters. MarketCast in a press release said the acquisition allows it to expand its media and entertainment research into audience testing for pre-release streaming and broadcast content, including series concepts and episodes.

“The acquisition of Invoke is transformative for MarketCast and the media and entertainment research segments we serve, helping the industry move fandom research for streaming and TV series completely online where speed and scale wins,” said John Batter, CEO of MarketCast. “With Invoke, we continue to invest in research innovation to provide our clients the very best platforms and tools to conduct research and advanced analytics smarter, faster and with more depth to meet the needs of a dynamically changing entertainment business.”

Invoke moves entertainment content research beyond physical screenings, allowing hundreds of audience members to participate in concept and episodic online screenings together in real-time. The platform includes chat and discussion features supported by advanced AI to interpret and analyze fan feedback and commentary. Combined, Invoke provides studio leadership and creative talent near-instantaneous feedback about how their content is performing and resonating with fans, allowing them to make more informed greenlighting, storyline, character, and marketing decisions with speed. 

“MarketCast’s focus on fandom research and entertainment and advertising content testing makes it a natural home for the Invoke team and platform,” said Gigi Wang, CEO of Invoke. “We are confident MarketCast can innovate and drive growth for Invoke’s people, products and platform, and will continue to realize our vision of leveraging technology to transform streaming and broadcast research.”

MarketCast currently screens and tests more than 3,000 movie, streaming series, and TV ads annually with millions of fans around the globe. Invoke’s product, technology, and research teams will join a growing MarketCast organization, which includes former leaders from Netflix, Nielsen, Gracenote, NRG, LRW, Dreamworks and Comscore.

Last year, MarketCast integrated its acquisitions of data science leader, Deductive, social digital opinion measurement firm, Fizziology, custom research and insights leader, Insight Strategy Group, and Turnkey Sports Intelligence under the MarketCast brand and leadership team. 

 

Farscape: The Complete Series — 20th Anniversary

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Sci-Fi;
$95.99 Blu-ray — 21 Discs;
Not rated.
Stars Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley, Paul Goddard, Lani Tupu, Wayne Pygram, Jonathan Hardy, Tammy MacIntosh, Raelee Hill, Melissa Jaffer, David Franklin, Rebecca Riggs.

This new 20th anniversary re-release of the complete “Farscape” offers a convenient way for fans who haven’t bought the show already to finally add it to their collections, or to gift it to sci-fi fans who haven’t seen it yet.

The series, which ran for 88 episodes from 1999 to 2003, starred Ben Browder as an American astronaut whose experiment in low-Earth orbit caused him to get flung by a wormhole to the far reaches of the universe, where he allies himself with strange aliens being pursued by the militaristic Peacekeepers. The series was co-produced by the Jim Henson Company, with many of the creatures being created by the famed Creature Shop.

The show was presented in the pre-HD standard 1.33:1 ratio for its first three seasons before switching to widescreen in its fourth, so the bulk of the episodes are presented with the black bars on the sides and upscaled to HD. The image quality is fine and the Blu-ray offers a nice showcase for the series’ imaginative palette of visual effects and alien designs. The space shots were accomplished with CGI and thus are marked by the unmistakable sheen that was typical of the technology available to television in the mid to late 1990s.

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The new Blu-ray set can be had for about $60 on Amazon. However, there are a few quirks to the release that might disincentive anyone who already has the earlier DVDs or Blu-rays from replacing them with this new set.

All the bonus material from the previous Blu-ray complete series sets has been carried over here — a healthy mix of commentaries, deleted scenes and making-of featurettes.

A noticeable and possibly detrimental difference is that the episodes are presented in their airdate order, in contrast to previous DVD and Blu-ray releases in which they were presented in their production order to match the intended timeline of the show. This really only affects the first half of the first season, but given how all the bonus content from the previous season releases was maintained, it’s a bit baffling why the decision was made to go with the airdate order and thus throw the early storylines out of continuity for new viewers. (The episode order apparently follows the same pattern as Netflix, which also ignored the previous DVD/Blu-ray order.)

The key distinguishing feature of this new release is the inclusion of the finale miniseries The Peacekeeper Wars, available for the first time on Blu-ray in the United States.

The miniseries was produced in 2004 to wrap up the show’s storylines in lieu of a fifth season, as the show, while popular, had been abruptly canceled by the Sci-Fi Channel in the middle of its fourth season for being too expensive to produce.

Due to licensing issues, Peacekeeper Wars has always been available separately from the series (with A&E releasing the series, and Lionsgate the miniseries) in the United States. The exception to this was a Best Buy-exclusive DVD set from about 10 years ago in which the retailer was able to pair the disparate releases.

While the bonus material from previous season sets has been preserved here, some extras from earlier Peacekeeper Wars DVD has not been. The Blu-ray version of the miniseries offers deleted scenes and a trailer. Lionsgate’s 2004 DVD had a 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, storyboards, concept art and spacecraft galleries, so fans who want all the material available won’t want to discard that old DVD just yet.