‘Variety’ Postpones Events

Industry trade Variety announced it has postponed its events through the end of May.

“As we produce over 70 annual Live Media events globally, the Variety team always puts our attendees’ well-being, best interests and safety first,” wrote chief marketing officer Dea Lawrence. “With the recent unprecedented developments of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we are more committed than ever to our community.”

Postponed events include the Entertainment Marketing Summit (originally scheduled for March 26), Power of Women NY (originally scheduled for April 3), Silicon Valleywood Summit (originally scheduled for April 22), Power of Law Breakfast (originally scheduled for April 24) and Inclusion Summit (originally scheduled for May 1).

“We will continue to look to the CDC for event guidelines for the remainder of the year,” Lawrence wrote.

Updates will be posted here.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“On behalf of Variety, we promise to keep you informed and updated about innovative strategies and tactics to move your business forward — from home,” Lawrence wrote. “We are actively planning virtual events and livestreams that do just that. We look forward to continuing to create experiences, whether online or in-person, that provide value and insight.”

Panelists Discuss SVOD Services, Data at ‘Variety’ Conference

SVOD services’ design, data collection and effect on content creation were front and center at the Variety Innovate conference Dec. 5.

On the heels of its launch Nov. 12, Michael Cerda, VP of product at Disney+, told attendees, “What it really comes down to is building a really compelling consumer experience that’s easy to use that honors the content.

“We weren’t going to reinvent the wheel, but what you do is put touches in.”

That included putting buttons on the site with brand names such as Marvel, Disney and National Geographic that help consumers find the content they want.

“It’s pretty straightforward,” he said.

Households can have up to seven profiles, with kids getting buttons that appeal to them, such as “character sets like princesses,” rather than brands.

Executives also quietly tested Disney+ in the Netherlands for a month before its U.S. launch, he noted.

As for the much-reported glitches at launch, he said, “It’s software and stuff happens with software. You deal with it quickly.”

“Amongst CTO’s there’s a great deal of empathy for Disney,” said Jeremy Legg, CTO, WarnerMedia, who noted that its upcoming SVOD service HBO Max will be using human curation, in addition to algorithms, to help consumers discover content.

The services are using data and algorithms to better target consumers.

“All of us are using some sort of personalization algorithm,” said Lindsay Silver, VP of product at Conde Nast.

“We collect 100 terabytes of data every day,” added Jim Denney, VP of product management at Hulu.

That data is combined with input from such sources as surveys and ethnographic studies.

“You have to collect all these things,” Denney said.

Variety co-editor-in-chief and moderator Andrew Wallenstein asked if streaming services can gauge such things as interest “when Baby Yoda comes on screen,” referring to the new Disney+ original “The Mandalorian.”

“We do have real-time video analytics,” Cerda said. “You pay attention to this stuff.”

“You have to pick and chose what works together,” said Sonu Durgia, director, product management, search, Walmart Labs. She noted that someone who buys diapers might be receptive to content for young kids.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The growth of streaming services has generated an explosion in spending on content, noted Wallenstein.

“We have crossed the $100 billion mark,” he said with spending in 2019 at an estimated $108.2 billion, according to the magazine’s research.

One content producer taking advantage of this explosion is legendary TV creator Chuck Lorre, who at the event explained how his “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix has changed how and what he writes. For one thing, appealing to the advertising sweet spot of those 18-49 isn’t a concern with streamers.

“You’re not concerned with how old the audience is,” he said. “You are determining if there is one.”

This allowed Lorre to explore a subject with “Kominsky Method” that he couldn’t on broadcast TV.

“I wanted to write about the minutia of getting old,” he said, as well as older folks’ “fears of being irrelevant.”

Writing for a streaming service without commercials also allows for different pacing.

“You’re not writing to an ad break,” he said. “You’re not writing to the ‘Perils of Pauline’ cliffhanger [hoping the viewer will come back].”

He compared watching a season of “Kominsky Method” to a four-hour movie or reading a book. Viewers can choose when they want to pause before continuing the story.

“In the Netflix environment, if an audience is watching show four, you know they’ve watched one, two and three,” he said, which isn’t true in broadcast TV.

“It changes the way the story unfolds,” he added. “It’s not so episodic.”

 

‘Variety’ 2019 Hall of Fame Honorees Feted

Variety inducted five into its Hall of Fame Dec. 3 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The awards, which began in the early days of video, now celebrate innovation in multiplatform entertainment. This year’s event benefitted City Year.

Inductees included writer, director and producer Greg Berlanti; DreamWorks Animation president Margie Cohn; actor, writer, director and producer Bill Hader; Cindy Holland, VP of original content at Netflix; and Dametra Johnson-Marletti, GM of Microsoft digital stores business and category management.

Paramount Pictures futurist-in-residence Ted Schilowitz was honored with an Innovation Award.

Story here.

Netflix’s Cindy Holland, Actor Bill Hader Among ‘Variety’ Hall of Fame Honorees Feted

Variety inducted five into its Hall of Fame Dec. 3 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The awards, which began in the early days of video, now celebrate innovation in multiplatform entertainment. The event benefitted City Year.

Inductees included writer, director and producer Greg Berlanti; DreamWorks Animation president Margie Cohn; actor, writer, director and producer Bill Hader; Cindy Holland, VP of original content at Netflix; and Dametra Johnson-Marletti, GM of Microsoft digital stores business and category management.

Paramount Pictures futurist-in-residence Ted Schilowitz was honored with an Innovation Award.

Netflix’s Holland paid tribute to the first winner of the award, Jane Fonda.

“Jane carved a path that’s impossible for anyone to follow, but many of us have walked or worked out in her footsteps,” she said. “She continues to live a bold and daring life well into her 80s now — whether it’s on ‘Grace and Frankie’ [on Netflix] or Fire Drill Fridays [climate change protests] in Washington, D.C. She’s getting arrested every Friday.”

Holland thanked Fonda for her “kind words” in the video introduction, adding “I’m really proud to know her, and I’d like to be like her when I grow up.”

She also noted Fonda’s involvement in creating the video industry.

“Jane’s workout videos were a really important part of the home entertainment industry, where I spent a lot of my career,” Holland said. “In the early days it was the VHS boom. That was followed by DVD and Blu-ray and now streaming. While Jane was working out in the 80s, I could only dream of all the movies and television shows we now have access to in our homes and in our pockets. It’s been a real pleasure to be part of that change.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

She urged more recognition for women in the industry.

“I’m really motivated to ensure that women in this industry have the same opportunities to succeed and more importantly to take risks, to fail, to be better for it and still be recognized,” she said.

Microsoft’s  Johnson-Marletti stressed the importance of studio partners.

“It’s not our code that customers like; it’s your content,” she said. “Thank you for a shared vision with us in bringing millions of Microsoft customers fantastic content.”

Hader, who works both behind and in front of the camera and is currently starring in HBO’s “Barry” and in Noelle on Disney+, recalled working as a production assistant and assistant editor in the industry before his breakout on “Saturday Night Live” — as well as growing up in Oklahoma.

“My grandfather used to say, ‘It’s so flat here that you can watch your dog run away for three days,’” he joked.

“So much has changed in this business since I started out, but certain things are more true than ever in this era of streaming wars or peak TV or post-streaming-war TV or whatever we’re calling it now,” said inductee Greg Berlanti in accepting his award. “I believe audiences will always want good stories, well-told, well-acted by diverse voices trying to make sense of the human experience.”

See photo gallery.

‘Rolling Stone’ Magazine Launching Branded Music Charts as ‘Billboard Hot 100’ Goes Global

Rolling Stone magazine is reportedly set to launch its own branded daily music charts — taking on longtime industry benchmark Billboard.

“Rolling Stone Charts” will track the Top 100 music singles and top 200 albums delivered across all distribution channels, including physical, digital and streaming.

Corporate owner Penske Media Group disclosed the move in Hollywood trade Variety, which it owns along with Deadline, Rolling Stone and 19 other media brands.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play Daily Newsletter!

“PMC’s strategy is to constantly evolve our brands and products across media platforms,” CEO Jay Penske said in a statement. “What’s imperative and exciting about our new ‘Rolling Stone Charts’ is that it will present a transparent, granular and real-time quantification to accurately reflect listeners’ evolving interests and give insight into worldwide trends.”

Rolling Stone, which has long featured music as a backdrop to editorial coverage on national news, trends and people, will also bow “Rolling Stone 500” tracking artists generating the most streaming play; “Rolling Stone Trending 25” featuring the most-popular songs daily; and “Rolling Stone Breakthrough 25,” focusing on first-time charting artists.

Data will be collected by BuzzAngle Music, a data analytics firm founded in 2016 and co-funded by PMC.

New York-based Billboard began tracking music in 1934 under a “hit parade” banner. Sales tracking began in 1940, with the current “Hot 100” comprised of singles, radio airplay, downloads and streaming.

The magazine May 6 announced the launch of “The Global 100,” which will track the top songs worldwide on a weekly basis.

“The launch of The Global 100 marks a major step in the continuing evolution of the Billboard charts,” Silvio Pietroluongo, SVP of charts and data products, said in a statement. “For decades, the U.S.-based ‘Billboard Hot 100’ has been viewed throughout the world as the barometer of success in music. Now, Billboard is proud to present a companion chart that will measure the impact of songs on an international scale.”