News

POV: 2017 Digital Newfronts

Background:

The IAB’s annual Digital NewFronts Event has just wrapped up in NYC.  The event, the digital media world’s equivalent to the US broadcast ‘Upfronts’, continues to evolve each year but is mainly a venue for digital publishers to unveil their slate of new video content and new video capabilities for the upcoming year.

Details and Implications:

Four key themes emerged from this year’s event:  

Brand Safety & Premium Content:
Many of the partners and players were focused on reaffirming trust and confidence in their environments and platforms. Most addressed these issues head on due to the amount of stories in the press on the subject. Publishers focused squarely on controlled and owned content experiences, which provide familiarity and comfort for traditional TV investors.

Live Streaming:
In the wake of growing skinny bundle adoption (satellite TV companies offering cheaper packages with fewer channels than the traditional bundle) and fragmented TV viewing, the battle for lighter TV viewer eyeballs is truly on. To this end, Twitter and Hulu are making big bets on live streaming. Hulu announced its long-rumored, live streaming subscription model. Costing $39.99/month, including the major US networks and various US cable partners, this is the network’s opportunity to tackle Netflix and Amazon head on. Twitter will also stream live high profile events such as the MTV Movie & TV Awards, Fashion Week, Live Nation concerts and various professional sporting events (although the NFL has moved from Twitter to Amazon).

VR/AR: News organizations (NY Times, Condé Nast, Time and Turner) have started to initiate advanced storytelling via VR/AR platforms, emphasizing scale and distribution. Though the long-term prospects for VR/AR are still promising, the installed base and regular usage (particularly with VR) only offers limited scale at this point, which has taken some of the shine off the opportunities in this space.

Social Platforms as TV: Snapchat continues to break new ground. Almost all its upcoming opportunities are focused on original content distributed via Snapchat Discover. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have similar offerings that either leverage original content or provide a platform for extended and exclusive viewing of partner content. The jury’s out on whether audiences will lean into long-form content in these environments but there’s no doubt that the social platforms are banking on this being the future.

Summary:

The Digital NewFronts remain a key venue for publishers to unveil their latest wares. Digital publishers continue to innovate: bettering brand safety, investing in new vehicles like live streaming, piloting and growing AR/VR capabilities and enhancing the distribution available on their platforms – with more opportunities for brands likely to follow.