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    If you spent any time walking around the various small cities that the major electronics companies erected last week at CES, you probably noticed how confident their executives were that the average consumer is set to have a much different, more intimate relationship with their TV manufacturer.

    Instead of exclusively interacting with their cable company’s electronic programming guide, or through a secondary device like an Xbox, the Samsungs, Sonys and LGs of the world seem pretty certain that everybody’s going to start using their user interface, their movie service, their navigation mechanisms and their app stores as the primary way they use TV. (How many people currently even use the remote controls that come with the TVs they’ve purchased?)

    But a handful of panelists at a CES event on Thursday threw some cold water on that dream. To here them tell it, if anybody’s got a shot at hijacking the TV experience, it’s tablet and smartphone makers.

    “TV is all about content,” said Henry Derovanessian, vp of engineering, DirecTV. “We’ve launched quite a few apps, particularly social apps. The take rate on these apps is pretty minimal. TVs are there to provide entertainment.”

    And while Kurt Hoppe, director of Smart TV innovation and new business at LG Electronics did note that the company has seen “an amazing usage of casual games on smart TV,” he acknowleged that social TV apps and personalized interfaces aren’t exactly taking off, at least on the TV itself.

    “Your smart TV is not your computer,” Hoppe said. “Yes, there’s a younger demo that loves to tell the world what they’re doing at all times of day and night. But they’re maybe typing that on their smart phone in their lap.”

    “It’s TV,” Hoppe continued. “It has to be very simple. People aren’t going to spend 15 to 20 minutes to drag and drop [a customized app experience] like desktop.”

    ---

    Speaking of the importance of mobile in most consumers’ entertainment lives, later in the day a group of gaming experts shared some not-so-optimistic assessments of the market for mobile games.

    “Mobile games [have a] lack of passion among users,” opined Chris Petrovic, gm of digital ventures for GameStop. "Monetization is a challenge ... .You’re going after an audience that plays games for time wasting rather than a hobby. I think we’re going to see the same implosion in mobile coming that happened in social games.” While Petrovic didn’t name names, it was clear he was referring to Zynga’s recent collapse.

    Gaming veteran Nanea Reeves, recently named COO at Machinima, said that mobile gaming will have a tough time until the games get more sophisticated, and more hard-core gamers find what they're looking for on smartphones and iPads.

    “Core gamers need more functionality,” she said. “The term 'casual gamer' is a misnomer. They are not gamers. They download a few games like Tetris and Bejewled and they play them over and over. They don’t buy a lot.”

    And even if they did, “with mobile games, discovery is a bear,” said Reeves. “Even on my own phone its hard.”

    Added Mark Friedler, vp of business development at Playerize, “99 percent of iOS apps don’t make money.”

    Naturally, there are exceptions. Teemu Huuhtanen, head of M&A for Rovio, maker of the mega-hit Angry Birds, said the company enjoyed 30 million downloads over the holidays, 8 million alone on Christmas Day. He blamed VCs for pouring too much money into the space, leading to companies that are just "paying for users."

    Users are not a problem for Rovio. Huuhtanen said that even though certain Angry Birds titles don’t monetize every gaming session, the company makes money on merchandise, such as stuffed Angry Bird animals. Plus, the company pulls in 20 percent of its revenue from advertising, said Huuhtanen.

    That’s a rarity though. According to most of the panelists, in-game mobile ad spending is nascent, or “anemic,” as Petrovic put it.

    Beyond debating whether mobile is in a bubble, the panelists spent much of Thursday’s entertaining session making proclamations about 2013 (consoles are dead, or maybe not) and taking shots at Nintendo.

    Moderator Mike Vorhaus, president of the consulting firm Magid Advisiors, said: “The Wii U is not a new console.”

    Playerize’s Friedler was harsher. “I think Nintendo is toast. The Wii U is a crappy product.”


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    Social commerce is typically Facebook’s and maybe Pinterest’s domain. But Twitter doesn’t usually factor into the conversation.

    American Express began to change that last year when it rolled out the ability for card members to connect their accounts and tweet hashtags to receive merchant offers. Now, less than two weeks after Facebook and Discover partnered on the offline Facebook Card, American Express is taking Twitter a step further.

    Starting today American Express card members can link their Twitter accounts with their American Express accounts and tweet specified hashtags to actually buy products on the social network. The program is the latest in a spate of partnerships American Express has executed since 2011 leveraging its Card Sync technology—connecting card members with their Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter and Xbox Live accounts. But those programs have all only delivered deals, not actual goods. Consider this launch Card Sync 2.0.

    “We’ve been doing a lot in the area of social commerce over the past two years,” said Leslie Berland, svp of digital partnerships and development at American Express. “Twitter Offers launched last year, and the response has been pretty fantastic. We want to bring in the new technology that we have to life in a most dramatic way, which we think Twitter is ripe for.”

    Amex's Twitter Offers program has run thousands of offers from merchants across the country, resulting in millions of dollars saved by card members, Berland said. The Sync program typically appeals younger than average card members who are just as affluent, she added.

    At launch, card members who have opted in can purchase a $25 Amex gift card for $15. On Wednesday five more products will be added: a $149 Amazon Kindle Fire HD, a $179 Sony Action Cam and waterproof headband mount, an $80 Urban Zen bracelet designed by Donna Karan, a $179 Microsoft Xbox 360 (including a 3-month Xbox Live subscription, two game tokens and a $29 Xbox controller). Those products will be available until March 3 if they’re not out sold out by then.

    “To bring this to market, we wanted to leverage our relationships with some of our largest, most global merchant partners to provide products that have massive yield and are simply conveyed in 140 characters or less,” said American Express' head of business and product development Dave Wolf. “This is sort of round one.”

    Each product will carry its own hashtag, which will also be featured as favorites on Amex’s Twitter page. After opted-in users tweet a hashtag, they’ll get an automated response to their Twitter account with a confirmation code. Users have 15 minutes to tweet the confirmation hashtag. Once they do, Amex will process the order and send the product via free two-day shipping.

    The idea of making a credit card purchase through Twitter could make some people uneasy, but the entire enrollment process takes place through Amex, as was the case with its previous partnerships. After a user tweets one of the hashtags, Amex will check whether that Twitter handle has enrolled in the program. If they haven’t, they’ll be directed to an Amex landing page to connect their card and Twitter account. Amex will be able to see if someone has already enrolled in the Twitter Offers program and will just need to confirm that user’s billing and shipping addresses. 

    American Express will promote the latest program using Twitter ads, including Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends, as well as through emails to card members and messaging on its own site. “From a targeting [perspective], we’re looking at those following the relevant merchants and tweeting about related products and services,” Berland said of the ad campaign.

    Berland said she doesn’t consider the latest Twitter program a pilot, saying that “from here it can grow and take shape.” Though she wouldn’t say whether it could take shape on Facebook, Foursquare, Xbox Live or even potentially Pinterest, the last major social network lacking a Card Sync partnership. 


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    Intel has a sizable presence in the consumer electronics market, but outside of those old "Intel Inside" ads, consumers don't consider the chip maker on the level of an Apple, Samsung or Sony. That's about to change.

    Intel is planning to launch an Internet TV this year that will distribute live TV, on-demand programming and an app platform, said Intel Media vp/gm Eric Huggers on Tuesday during All Things D's D: Dive Into Media event. "I believe we can bring an incredible television experience via the Internet to consumers," he said.

    Huggers said that his team has been working directly with TV programmers on the product, though he wouldn't say whether any companies have signed content distribution agreements. The hang-up may be the product's business model. Customers would pay Intel instead of the cable companies, he said.

    However Intel's hardware comes with a carrot that might attract programmers' interest. The TV will feature a front-facing camera that will be able to detect who is watching it. Huggers didn't detail the level of recognition technology, but suggested that it could distinguish between a child and an adult.

    That could be a boon for programmers looking to know who's watching their shows and advertisers aiming to target their ads to specific audiences. The camera could also creep out consumers, but Huggers said they would have the option to close its shutter.

    If consumers can get past the camera's creep factor, they may like Intel's plans for bundling content. While the company isn't looking to end cable companies' practice of bundling of regularly watched channels with never-seen ones, Huggers said Intel's hope is to create more intelligent bundles that serve as a form of personalized curation. 

    "If the bundles are bundled right, there's real value in that opportunity to create a more flexible environment where [users] have more control than they do today," he said. "I don't believe the industry is ready for pure a la carte [programming]," in which consumers could pick and choose what channels they want."


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    It's got to be bitter to lose a contract to your old business partner.

    That's what happened to Netflix yesterday when Starz won a deal over the streaming-and-delivery service with Sony Pictures to distribute the studio's new product. It's a deal that was one analyst pegged at $2 billion, which in itself suggests how much Netflix's business model has changed. Just two years ago, the service's entire rights budget was estimated at $700 million.

    That's likely one reason that Netflix is investing in stuff like today's big deal: a new show with DreamWorks Animation called Turbo: F.A.S.T. (not to be confused with the Turbo F.A.S.T. workout software—here's hoping that's not trademarked, Netflix!) spun off of the upcoming DreamWorks movie Turbo.

    DreamWorks has been agnostic thus far in terms of its distribution partners. The studio has partnered with both Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network in the past; on both networks, its offerings have focused on established IP from its movies.

    But Turbo: F.A.S.T. is the first cartoon that DreamWorks has sold to a small-screen partner before the movie that it's ostensibly supporting hits theaters. This is potentially a win-win deal: DreamWorks will have a multiplatform rollout for Turbo: F.A.S.T. and Netflix will expand on its kids' offerings, which have recently included a wide-ranging deal with Disney and, with the new DreamWorks pact, will include that company's slate of 2013 films as well—The Croods, Turbo, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

    "Netflix boasts one of the largest and fastest-growing audiences in kids' television," said DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in a statement. "They pioneered a new model for TV dramas with 'House of Cards,' and now together we're doing the same thing with kids' programming."

    It's a much more comprehensive slate than Netflix's pacts with other movie studios, and Netflix seems to be siding with other pay-for-content services like HBO and Showtime in its corporate opinion that original programming is the coin of the realm, at least with consumers.

    Given the vast multiplicity of ways to watch serialized and theatrical video programming, subscription services like Netflix are only as good as their originals, since rights deals for established content are much lower-profile than debut series. They're also harder to come by: as linear networks like Starz, which originally partnered with Netflix on much of its sexier content, begin to see Netflix as a serious threat, the bidding wars over early windows on movies and TV shows get progressively more heated.

    And those originals are good for business. Because metrics like total viewers and audience retention don't matter to a company that doesn't sell ads, the one serious datum is the company's subscriber revenue, and just before the premiere of Netflix's highest-profile original to date—House of Cards—that number rose a reported 2 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

     


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    Christmas may be 10 months away, but Sony knows it’s never too early to start building buzz for its long-awaited holiday release, the PlayStation 4. Beating rival Microsoft in the race to announce the new generation of game consoles, Sony today unveiled the first legitimate details of the PS4, including some of the launch titles that could be crucial in making the device a sales success right out of the gate (unlike the PS3, which initially saw sluggish adoption due to its combination of high sticker price and low game selection). What will the PS4 cost? No idea. What does the console look like? Good question. For now, Sony would rather focus on showing you how amazing these new games are going to look. So why disappoint them? After the jump, we’ve gathered up the 10 trailers that are supposed to leave you panting for a PlayStation 4. Even if you don’t plan to wait in line for one, you’re going to want to watch these:


    Sony PlayStation 4 Announcement Trailer

    Here's a quick wrapup video from Sony's announcement event, with highlights of several games and features:

    Destiny

    A sneak peek of the new project from Bungie, creators of the Halo franchise. Destiny will be available on current consoles, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but is also being developed for the new PS4:

    DriveClub

    Sony describes DriveClub for the PS4 as a "next-generation, socially connected racing game that captures the heart and soul of car culture." The realism of the gameplay footage is pretty staggering:

    Deep Down (Working Title)

    Fantasy RPGs are a staple of video gaming, so it's no surprise that Sony has one lined up for the PS4 (even if it doesn't have an official name yet). In this trailer, you get to see some hot, hot man-on-dragon action:

    Infamous: Second Son

    Popular anti-hero game series Infamous returns on the PS4. Notice that the security camera footage show's the date of Sony's announcement event, Feb. 20, 2013:

    Killzone: Shadow Fall

    Another longstanding PlayStation franchise that's set to return on the PlayStation 4:

    The Witness

    Indie game icon Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, has created a colorful and intriguing new title for the PlayStation 4:

    Watch Dogs

    Trailers for this open-world epic have been around for a few months, but here's some pretty incredible footage from the PlayStation 4, with narration from the game's lead designer:

    Knack

    Just so you don't think the PS4 will be all murder and mayhem, here's a trailer for a clever game with younger players in mind:

    PlayStation 4: See the Future

    This five-minute clip featuring the brains behind the PlayStation 4 is probably a bit too geeky for most casual gamers, but if you're curious to hear about the philosophical changes that will separate the console from its predecessors, it's worth a watch:

    So what do you think? Assuming the price is right, are you intrigued enough to consider picking up a PlayStation 4 this holiday season?


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  • 02/28/13--11:57: Ad of the Day: Sony Xperia Z
  • Fun fact: Associating with David Bowie, whether in physical or purely musical form, instantly increases your cool factor by about 1 trillion percent. See: fashion model Iman, TV series Flight of the Conchords, the movie Labryinth and Lincoln Motor Co.

    So, to elevate an otherwise just sort-of-neat ad for its new smartphone, the Xperia Z (pronounce it "zed" for full effect), Sony had the good sense to enlist the talents of the artist formerly known as Ziggy Stardust—or at least his vocals from a 1977 outtake of the song "Sound and Vision." (Yes, the same song Beck covered so memorably for Lincoln.)

    The Xperia spot, from McCann London and director Tarsem—his credits include everything from REM's "Losing My Religion" video to the recent film Mirror, Mirror (also known as the Snow White retelling that didn't result in Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's tragic breakup)—begins with the popular "Our brand through history" trope. But Bowie's soundtrack makes the slow-motion flashback scenes, from a group of people watching a rocket blast off on an early Sony TV to some kids playing with the first Sony PlayStation, seem substantially less cheesy.

    The big finish, Tarsem's present-day depiction of the Xperia Z in action, is visually stunning: A pair of tourists in India use the smartphone to record a Holi festival celebration—in which the participants throw brightly colored powders at one another—before rinsing the apparently waterproof device in a stream of clear water.

    Moving at half speed and set to this music, Tarsem almost makes you forget that you're watching your 30th smartphone ad of the day.

    CREDITS
    Client: Sony
    Product: Xperia Z
    Agency: McCann, London
    Production Company: @radical.media
    Director: Tarsem Singh


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    The quiet is deafening. Where are the creative new-business opportunities out there?

    While media reviews continue apace, significant creative-only reviews have been relatively scarce this year in what agency leaders and search consultants call an unusually slow period. Also, the size of the creative prizes, with a few exceptions, has been smaller.

    Marketing spending is one of the first to be cut in a downturn, and in the U.S., it’s a battle for share and taking business away from competitors. That explains the large amount of review activity around media buying, a huge line item in marketers’ budgets that’s subject to the increasing clout of procurement and constant digital change.

    It’s a different story for creative reviews, however, where the first quarter is traditionally busy, given that marketers have new budgets approved and typically want to have an agency in place before the summer kicks in. If an advertiser is reliant on holiday sales and it was a bad fourth quarter, it’s often time to pass the buck.

    “If it’s a calendar-year client, you’re now in the second quarter, so you’ll want to have an agency by the end of the summer and have the fall to work on a campaign that will debut in January,” said one search consultant.

    Since January, four media reviews representing more than $1.6 billion in spending have begun (Danone, Nationwide, Walgreens and Bacardi). Media also is part of three other creative and media reviews launched in the same time period (H.H. Gregg, Staples and Sony PlayStation), and collectively those marketers spend about $250 million annually. In contrast, spending behind the handful of creative-only searches that began in the past four months totaled $940 million, and when you back out JCPenney, that total drops to $500 million.

    There doesn’t seem to be a definitive explanation for the scarcity of creative-only reviews, but David Beals, president of the R3:JLB consultancy in Chicago, offered that the long downward economic stretch has forced marketers to look at their agency relationships. “My suspicion is that a lot of marketers have already taken a hard analysis of that, and we’re in a lull,” he said.

    Other consultants find themselves doing more relationship management work. “We can often help work through pain points in order to retain and strengthen their existing agency relationships,” said Ken Robinson of Ark Advisors in New York. “We’re not just matchmakers. We’re also marriage counselors.”

    The good news from Robinson? His firm has a two-month lead time for searches, and the pace of creative searches may pick up again in the summer.

    Agency executives see other trends at play. One suggested that marketers are more inclined to shift business without reviews, especially considering the relatively short lifespan of a CMO these days and the time it takes to conduct a search. Also, some marketers may just be more discreet, contacting fewer shops about their opportunities and reducing the possibility of leaks, said another agency exec.


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    Let the games begin!                                      

    Sony and Microsoft stormed Adweek and YouTube's Ads Leaderboard in May as both companies introduced their next-gen gaming consoles—the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One—in teaser videos. Both of those clips made the top five this month. But they were eclipsed by a teaser for an actual video game, which took the top spot.

    Elsewhere on this month's list, Old Spice nailed down two spots in the to p 10 for the second straight month. And Kmart followed up April's enormously successful "Ship My Pants" ad with "Big Gas Savings," which reached less stratospheric but still respectable levels.

    Audi of America placed high on this month's list with its hilarious spot starring Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto. And Cruzan Rum also snuck in with its amusing take on laid-back island life.

    The view counts, which fell back significantly from their record levels in April, are as of June 5. To be eligible for the YouTube Ads Leaderboard, videos must be marked as ads on YouTube (i.e., they get some paid views) but must also earn significant organic views. See all 10 spots at the link below.

    Video Gallery: YouTube's 10 Most-Watched Ads in May


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    With each new announcement about the upcoming launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft seems to be making a few more enemies.

    Gamers and industry observers have become increasingly skeptical of the next-gen gaming console thanks to features that seem catered far more to piracy-paranoid game publishers than to game buyers. For example, Microsoft said today that users won't be allowed to play games if their consoles are disconnected from the Internet for more than 24 hours. (Laughably, the brand says you can still "watch live TV" while disconnected, though I'm not sure defaulting to a cable box is a great selling point.) Reddit's Gaming community has exploded today with posts mocking the Xbox One's unpopular features and requirements. As of this writing, 23 of the top 25 posts on the Gaming subreddit are anti-Microsoft (check out several of the best after the jump).

    It's not all a reaction to the required-connection announcement, either. Despite Microsoft's assurances that you'll be able to turn off the motion-detecting Kinect's microphone and camera, gamers still see the mandatory peripheral as an potential invasion of their privacy. Players also weren't thrilled to hear that the ability to buy or sell used games will be determined by the game publishers, who might require you to pay full price when you install one of their titles, even if you buy the disc used.

    The infuriated response by gamers is definitely a PR nightmare for Microsoft, but here's the real question: Will Sony manage to keep looking like a hero? So far, Sony has revealed relatively few details about the PlayStation 4, and there's a good chance that as gamers learn more about Sony's own anti-piracy measures and hardware requirements, much of the brand's recently garnered goodwill could erode. Or as today's most popular Reddit Gaming post puts it, "Don't screw this up, Sony, and you will own the next generation."


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    While most gamers were focused this week on learning what the new Sony PlayStation 4 will look like and how much it will cost ($399), ad geeks were treated to their own big reveal: the console's new marketing campaign. "Greatness Awaits" will be the launch tagline for the PS4, and the campaign rolled out this week with a suitably epic 90-second anthem spot from BBH New York. The agency won the PlayStation account earlier this year, succeeding longtime creative lead Deutsch/LA, whose ads featuring fictional PlayStation vp Kevin Butler were roundly beloved until ending awkwardly with a lawsuit against the star talent. The new guard's inaugural work for the PS4 features actor Taylor Handley (from CBS's recently canceled series Vegas) delivering a long-take soliloquy on embracing your greatness. Speckled with cameos by game characters and self-destructing set designs, the ad ends with the actor diving into the fray to break some pirate legs and clothesline a few clowns. If those are both part of the same game, I'd be willing to pre-order a PS4 today. Credits below.

    CREDITS
    Client: Sony PlayStation 4

    Agency: BBH New York
    Chief Creative Officer: John Patroulis
    Executive Creative Director: Ari Weiss
    Creative Director: Nate Able
    Copywriter: Rick Herrera
    Head of Integrated Production: Justin Booth-Clibborn
    Senior Producer: Jennifer Moore Bell
    Production Assistant: AJ Gutierrez
    Head of Account Management: Armando Turco
    Account Director: Melissa Hill
    Account Manager: Georgie Gooley
    Account Coordinator: Marshal Kerns

    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Rupert Sanders
    Director of Photography: Greig Fraser
    President: David Zander
    Executive Producer: Kate Leahy
    Producer: Laurie Boccaccio
    Production Supervisor: Adriana Cebada Mora
    Production Designer: Dominic Watkins
    Costume Designer: Mayes Rubeo

    Local Production Company: Kinema Films de Mexico
    Local Production Co. Producer: Jose Ludlow

    Editorial: Work Post NY
    Executive Producer: Erica Thompson
    Editor: Neil Smith
    Assistant Editor: Healy Snow

    VFX & Finishing: The Mill NY
    Exec Producer: Jo Arghiris
    Senior VFX Producer: Charlotte Arnold
    VFX Supervisor: Iwan Zwarts
    VFX Supervisor: Rob Petrie
    Assistant Producer: Juan Handal
    Colour Producer: Heath Raymond
    Colourist: Fergus McCall
    2D Lead Compositor: Iwan Zwarts
    2D Compositing Artists: Kyle Cody, Dan DiFelice,
    Additional: Danny Morris, John Mangia, Ilia Mokhtareizadeh, Greg Spencer, Dan Giraldo
    2D Conforms and Cut-downs: Jade Kim
    3D Lead Artists: Rob Petrie and Joji Tsuruga
    3D Lead Lighter: Olivier Mitonneau
    3D Animators: Jeff Lopez, Alex Allain, Tyler Hurd
    3D Artists: Olivier Varteressian, Per Bergsten, Ivan Luque Cueller, Billy Dangyoon Jang, Boris Ustaev, Hassan Taimur, Ruben Vandebroek, Tim Kim
    3D MASSIVE: Wyattt Savarese, Ed Hicks, Hassan Tuimir
    3D FX: Nick Couret, Ian Baxter, Phil Mayer, Cedrick Grousse
    Matte Painting: Can Y. Sanalan
    Title Design: Mario Stipinovich, Tetsuro Mise, Eugene Kolb

    Additional:
    LIDAR services provided by Scanable: Travis Reinke
    Rotoscoping provided by: Trace VFX
    Sound Designer: Brian Emrich at Trinitite
    Music: Woodwork Music
    Music Producer: Andrew Oswarek
    Composer: Phil Kay
    Mix: Sound Lounge
    Mixer: Tom Jucarone


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    Crackle has always had something of an enigma. Founded as Grouper, a YouTube wannabe from the early 2000s, the site was acquired and rebranded as Crackle.com back in 2006. Since then, the programming has bounced between originals featuring Married ... With Children’s David Faustino to old episodes of Party of Five to guy movies like Pineapple Express.

    Then, last year, via a unique relationship through Jerry Seinfeld, Crackle saw its profile soar with Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Adweek caught up with Eric Berger, exec vp of digital networks at Sony Pictures Television, and gm of Crackle, to talk about season two of the show.

    Has Crackle been in need of a defining hit, or a show that helps provide the site with an identity?
    Yes, because we have definitely evolved a lot. We were very much about short form, typical Web series, inexpensive content. Years ago we were about user-generated content and indie stuff. In the last two years, we’ve really pivoted. We think of this as one of our networks we run worldwide. And we think this is how you build a network for a next generation. We’re building up long-form, premium content, and we’ve got hundreds of full length movies and TV shows. As we think about originals they have to sit side by side with these movies and TV shows. So we’re  evolving to long form. You see that with chosen, which stars Milo Ventimiglia, which is coming back for a second season, and a sequel to the David Spade movie Joe Dirt.

    But Comedians really brought a lot of new attention and viewers, right?
    It’s absolutely a signature program. Jerry Seinfeld could have gone anywhere to do something, and Crackle was a great home for him. We’re not just about being a big, aggregated service. Crackle is very programmed. We compare what we are doing with AMC, FX.

    You’ve been doing a lot of promotion too, like a traditional network.
    The first time around, all we did was post one sentence on the Seinfeld Facebook page. We said, check it out. It’s just exploded. This time, Jerry’s been out there making the rounds. And we’ve done twice as many streams as we did last year at this point. We did 2.5 million streams in two weeks. The first episode has done triple the numbers from last year. The episode with Sarah Silverman.
    The audience is really diversifying too. We’re on 20 different applications and platforms. We’ve found that 60 percent of the show’s audience is online. The rest is on TV and connected devices. That’s really how we build the service.

    What do you attribute that to?
    Well, this is frictionless for users. The content travels, and it’s free on all platforms.

    Beside Comedians, one really interesting thing about your recent NewFront is that you are bringing back the show The Bannen Way, which seemed to pop for you, but hasn’t aired a new episode since 2010.
    That was one that was developed with an old model. We did a handful of 10-minute episodes that rolled up into a 90-minute movie. It sold well around world, on TV and on DVD. It went through a [typical windowing] cycle that went around the world. Our TV group even looked at it, asking, "Does it make sense for a linear series? This is making a lot of money for us."

    Are you still going to distribute it globally? It seems like this is the model that companies like Vuguru have embraced—using TV and DVD sales abroad to fund Web shows.

    We think we’ve cracked this to some degree. The slate makes a lot s sense now for where we are. We’re doing 10 more episodes of The Bannen Way, of Chosen as well. We’re doing full-length movies. We think there are plenty of Web video dollars [to be had]. But we’re looking at everything. The same group that sells House of Cards sells our stuff to distributors. All of our stuff is in house. As a company we’re building IP, and we’re also creating other businesses. The ad dollars aren’t as big as in other industries. That’s everything though. TV shows don't make enough money just on TV. Look at syndication of Seinfeld reruns. That’s not a slam against Web video.

    Are you seeing a post-NewFront market take shape?
    We really are. It did jumpstart the industry and legitimized some of the buying. It forced a lot of companies like ours to put our best foot forward. We built a new sales team dedicated to Crackle last November, with execs in Chicago, L.A., Detroit, etc. And there’s been nothing but incredible upside from the NewFronts. One thing that’s helped us is that these shows are going to get made. They are not contingent on an advertiser signing on. We’re not waiting. That was a criticism last year, that stuff didn’t get made.

    What’s next with Cars?
    Jerry has said he wants to do 24 more. So we’ll release a third season at some time. We’d love to just keep doing more with him. We’re looking for other shows all the time—more comedy. It does really well.


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    Samsung has innovative cross-promotions with musicians down cold.

    Separate divisions of the company—Samsung Televisions and Samsung Mobile—had the two biggest hits on YouTube and Adweek's Ads Leaderboard for June, ranking the most-viewed commercials on the video site during the month.

    Both spots were tie-ins with musicians. The former was a digital short film starring Usher and inspired by the title track from his new album, Looking 4 Myself. The latter hyped the early release of Jay-Z's new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, exclusively to 1 million Samsung Galaxy users. (Never mind that the actual album drop didn't go smoothly at all in the end.)

    The Samsung Televisions spot, created by Huge, is particularly compelling. Directed by Rich Lee, it features two Ushers facing off against each other—with a "down-to-earth" Usher seeking revenge against a "celebrity" Usher after fame causes his romantic relationship to collapse. The spot has topped 40 million views since it was uploaded to YouTube on June 13.

    See all 10 of this month's spots at this link:

    Video Gallery: YouTube's 10 Most-Watched Ads in June

    Elsewhere on this month's list, a pair of Despicable Me 2 videos did well (one of them from the studio behind the film, the other a brand tie-in); another PepsiMAX stunt broke through; and YouTube itself placed a spot with an inspiring gay-pride video posted in the wake of DOMA's downfall.

    PlayStation, Microsoft and Nike Basketball also show up on the list, as does Dollar Shave Club with the sequel to its viral masterpiece from 2012.

    The view counts are as of July 5. To be eligible for the YouTube Ads Leaderboard, videos must be marked as ads on YouTube (i.e., they get some paid views) but must also earn significant organic views. The list only ranks videos uploaded in June.


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    IDEA: Sony's 4K Ultra HD television, with four times the resolution of regular HD, literally stops people in their tracks. Filmmaker Garth Davis saw one at the Sundance Film Festival and ended a conversation in midsentence to go look at it. That eureka moment led to 180LA's new 60-second spot for the TV, directed by Davis, who also stars in it and does the voiceover. Filmed with Sony Cine-Alta F65 and F55 4K cameras, the ad features Davis ruminating on how the beauty and clarity of 4K help close the gap between what he can imagine in his mind's eye as a filmmaker—illustrated by the ad's grand and surreal visions—and what he can actually show on a screen. "My brief was very simple," said Davis. "To bring to life my imagination with no boundaries as long as it celebrated
    the colors aqua and red, and there were scenes epic enough to show off the 4K resolution."

    COPYWRITING: The agency wanted to explore what such amazing visual resolution would mean to a director. "We literally asked Garth to imagine what kind of world that kind of detail might inspire him to dream up," said 180 copywriter Zac Ryder. "He came back to us with a bunch of ideas, and we worked together to shape them from there." Watching TV at home, Davis looks down to see a small bluebird in his hands. Looking up, he finds himself sitting on a chair in a vast ocean. He sees a woman in a red dress; a giant spaceship; a floating house; dozens of people in period costume climbing huge ladders; cannon warfare among a throng of ships.

    "The sea connects to our inner world and can be deeply emotional and surreal," said Davis. "I also love how the imagination can be so random, and the connection in the scenes are somewhat there but not understood. … I looked back for inspiration at Salvador Dali, J.M.W. Turner, Fellini and Andrew Wyeth, all of which reminded me to be bold, mad, elegant and precise." Davis' voiceover ends with the line: "Now there are no more barriers between the world that I see and ones I can show you. Only on a Sony 4K Ultra HDTV." The spot ends with the Sony logo and tagline, "make.believe."

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Davis—who also directed Coke's "Sleepwalker" and Schweppes's "Burst" ads—filmed for four days outside Auckland, New Zealand, in a few feet of water in a giant bay. The cinematographer was Claudio Miranda, who won an Oscar for Life of Pi and had worked with 4K cameras before. Davis wanted real water—no CGI. "That meant putting all of the camera equipment, lighting rigs and generators on rafts while we shot, and then moving all of the equipment in and out with the tides," said Ryder. "It was pretty time consuming. But the end result looks incredible."

    The 4K version of the spaceship, built by MPC in real-world scale at nearly 300 meters in diameter, is the largest digital asset ever created for a commercial, the agency says. It's no coincidence that the spot has strong splashes of color. "One of the things that is unique to Sony, obviously, is color," said Davis. "So, not only are we telling a story that's surreal, we're also trying to capture moments of intense color."

    SOUND: An original score by music house Human is a mix of piano and orchestral sounds, changing from scene to scene. "We wanted to create a track that would replicate what's happening in Garth's imagination," said Ryder. "So as Garth is imagining new worlds, the melody begins to evolve and find itself."

    MEDIA: The ad is running on national broadcast TV, in cinemas and in rich-media banners online.

    THE SPOT:

    CREDITS
    Client: Sony
    Vice President, Brand Experience Marketing & Direct Visual Merchandising: Patrick Bewley
    Director, Brand Experience Marketing: Christine Gately-Evans
    Senior Manager, Brand Experience Marketing: Ken Byers

    Spot: "Imagine"

    Agency: 180, Los Angeles
    Executive Creative Director: William Gelner
    Creative Directors: Dave Horton, Matthew Woodhams-Roberts
    Copywriter: Zac Ryder
    Art Director: Adam Groves
    Head of Production: Natasha Wellesley
    Producer: Emma Starzacher
    Account Director: Nancy Bernacchi
    Account Manager: Mike Slatkin
    Account Coordinator: Sarah Lynch
    Planner: Mitch Polatin

    Production Co.: Reset
    Director: Garth Davis
    DP: Claudio Miranda
    Managing Director: David Morrison
    Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall
    Head of Production: Jen Beitler
    Producer: Karen Sproul
    Production Designer: Kim Jarrett
    Costume Designer: Barbara Darragh
    Casting Company: Catch Casting
    Casting Director: Linda McFetridge

    Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors LA
    Editor: Stewart Reeves
    Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver
    Producer: Alexandra Zickerick

    Effects Company: MPC LA
    Creative Director: Paul O'Shea
    VFX Supervisor: Andy Boyd
    2D Artists: Miles Essmiller, Paul O'Shea, Martin Hall
    Concept Artist: Robert Brown
    Matte Painter: Kristin Johnson
    3D Artists: Andy Boyd, Scott Metzger, Ross Denner, Aaron Hamman, Atsushi Imamura, Steward Burris, Jean-Dominique Fievet, Jonathan Vaughn, Rick Walia, Hayley O'Neill, Mike Wynd, Dustin Colson, Ian Wilson
    Telecine Artist: Mark Gethin
    Telecine Asst: Derek Hansen
    Executive Producer: Asher Edwards
    Producers: Nick Fraser, Diana De Vries

    Recording Studio: Eleven Sound
    Mixer: Jeff Payne
    Asst Mixer: Ben Freer
    Executive Producer: Caroline O'Sullivan

    Original Music: human
    Sound Design: human


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    It's a more-than-familiar narrative: At the end of the world, you'll do horrible things to survive. But this new spot from 180 Amsterdam, for the post-apocalyptic PlayStation 3 game The Last of Us, breathes a little new life into the premise.

    While the voiceover dips heartily into the clichés of the genre, the visual conceit is powerful. Thanks to some neat effects, a clean-cut—boring-looking, even—live actor transforms into the game's weathered, tortured, machete-wielding CGI protagonist.

    That captures the implicit promise of the game: Pick up the controller, and become somebody else—someone stronger and more exciting—for a little while.

    In fact, you'll become a hero, as the girl you're traveling with in the game may be the key to curing the human race—an element of the narrative that's oddly not clear in the ad, even though it would bolster the ego play.

    Of course, when it's all over, you'll go back to your life of wondering whether that plaid shirt really goes with your khakis, and staring at your computer like a zombie.

    CREDITS
    Credits: Sony
    Agency: 180 Amsterdam
    Production Company: Minivegas, @radical
    Direction, Postproduction: Minivegas
    Grading: Finish
    Music: Wave

    Executive Creative Director: Al Moseley
    Creative Directors: Martin Terhart, Graeme Hall
    Art Director: Stephane Lecoq
    Copywriter: Martin Beswick
    Account Director: Gemma Knox
    Account Manager: Simone Raspagni
    Project Manager: Meredith Bergonzi
    Producer: Bethany Papenbrock

    Executive Producer: Brian Bourke
    Line Producer: Ralph de Haan
    Post Producer: Lauren Becker
    3-D Lead: Sergio Pinto Buerba
    3-D Artists: Klaas-Harm de Boer, William Torres
    Lead Compositor: Sven de Jong
    Compositor: Dave Zaretti
    Offline Editor: Sander van der Aa


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    Now you can easily share clips of yourself playing video games with all of your PlayStation friends.

    Gaming community platform Twitch has been growing by leaps and bounds; today, it cemented a deal with Sony to add a one-touch broadcasting function to the PS4. With the same function rolling out on XBox Live, as well, Twitch is positioned to grow even further in the coming year, as it translates ease-of-use into content streams.

    For the layman: turns out people love to watch other people play video games online (probably while both groups of people should be working), especially StarCraft, DOTA, and other complicated multiplayer games. Twitch has become a major hub for this kind of gaming, not least because of the platform's ease of use for players who want to show off their skills for an audience. Twitch makes it possible to simply press a button and stream your gaming session to its site,

    And business wise, since one player = one stream, and one stream may have hundreds or even thousands of users. So when Twitch makes it possible to simply press a button and stream your gaming session to its site, it's basically adding a huge number of extra channels to its package.

    Twitch just recently struck out on its own, leaving behind CBS Interactive's ad sales division in favor of creating an in-house group. It's in the midst of trying to widen the reach of all three of its divisions—ad sales, premium accounts, and subcription channels. With the PS4 and the Xbox Live expected to usher in an even bigger gaming boom, many associated businesses such as Twitch (and networks that rely on gaming revenue) are anticipating a banner holiday season.


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    Walt Disney, Yahoo, Google, Sony and Nestlé, in that order, are the most-loved companies in the world, according to an extensive study by APCO Worldwide. Rounding out the top 10, per the global communication and business strategy firm, are French retailer Auchan, Netflix, Whole Foods, Apple and Lowe's.

    APCO surveyed 70,000 consumers in 15 major international markets about 600 of the world's biggest brands to arrive at its top 100 rankings. Interestingly, the Washington, D.C., firm's study measured eight emotional feelings people have toward brands: understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment, and pride.

    Nancy Bachrach, an APCO senior advisor, said marketers "need to know which emotions affect [sales]."

    Five particularly intriguing findings from the study:

    • PepsiCo (No. 17) trails Coca-Cola (No. 14), but not by as much as one might expect;
    • Six out of the top 22 brands were born after the Internet;
    • Whole Foods (No. 8) is more than 60 spots ahead of McDonald's;
    • Digital stalwarts eBay (No. 76) and Facebook (No. 81) didn't rank super high—but their "approachability" scores probably hurt them;
    • Cat, the heavy machinery brand, made the list at No. 92.

    And here is APCO's top 100 most-loved companies.


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    The PlayStation 4 launches next month, and Sony is feeding the frenzy with its new "Perfect Day" commercial from BBH in New York. It's a follow-up to the widely popular PlayStation 4 trailer from June, and it coincides with the launch of Sony's "Greatness Awaits" website. In the ad, two young men role-play battle via scenes from the Elder Scrolls Online, Driveclub and Killzone: Shadow Fall, all to the tune of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day."

    The song juxtaposes nicely against the battle scenes, and although Reed is not actually singing it, the actors belting it out off-key while fighting make for a fun spot. Reed spoke positively about the ad industry at Cannes earlier this year, which makes a lot of sense now that he's profiting off it (though still not profiting off iTunes, apparently). Is that a touch of irony in the song selection, too, since it's allegedly about addiction?

    UPDATE: As Pete Shelly reminds us, Reed's original version of "Perfect Day" has been used in advertising before—in the beautiful AT&T spot below with Gretchen Bleiler, by BBDO New York and director Peter Thwaites, from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

    CREDITS
    Client: Sony PlayStation 4

    Agency: BBH, New York
    Chief Creative Officer: John Patroulis
    Executive Creative Director: Ari Weiss
    Interactive Creative Director: Tim Nolan
    Creative Directors: Gerard Caputo, Chris Maiorino
    Lead Senior Producer: Jennifer Moore Bell
    Senior Producer: Kate Morrison
    Head of Integrated Production: Justin Booth-Clibborn
    Head of Account Management: Armando Turco
    Account Director: Melissa Hill
    Account Executive: Jon Moll
    Senior Broadcast Business Manager: Sean McGee
    Copywriter: Ian Hart
    Art Director: Dave Brown
    Visual Designer: Rahim Masunu
    User Experience Designer: Kelly Bignell
    Lead Producer: Martin Mlekicki
    Digital Producer: Victoria Fishel
    Chief Strategy Officer: Sarah Watson
    Strategist: Kendra Salvatore
    Strategist: Angela Sun
    Head of Comms Planning: Julian Cole
    Comms Planner: Ben Zoll

    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Matthijs Van Heijningen
    Director of Photography: Joost Van Gelder
    Executive Producer: Scott Howard
    Producer: Donald Taylor
    Production Designer: Robin Brown

    Production Partner: HAUS
    Creative Director: Rasmus Blaesbjerg
    Technology Lead: Dino Petrone
    Senior Producer: Claudine Nichols
    Digital Producer: Tracey McAvoy

    Editing: Union Edit
    Executive Producer: Caryn Maclean
    Senior Producer: Sara Mills
    Editor: Jono Griffith
    Assistant Editor: Megan Swados

    Visual Effects, Finishing: The Mill
    Executive Producer: Sean Costelloe
    Senior Producers: Charlotte Arnold, Will Mok
    Assistant Producer: Juan Handal
    Color Producer: Heath Raymond
    Shoot Supervisors: Gavin Wellsman, Joji Tsuruga
    Colorist: Fergus McCall

    Music: Lou Reed
    Additional Music Arrangement: Human
    Sound Design: Human
    Mix: Sound Lounge
    Mixer: Tom Jucarone


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    If the automotive industry can be seen as a bellwether for digital marketing, get ready for some seriously precise targeting that straddles the line between powerfully scientific and creepily intrusive.

    During a lively presentation at the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable event in Las Vegas, Yong Sung, svp and digital group client director for MediaVest, and Duncan McCall, CEO and co-founder of the mobile data firm PlaceIQ, laid out a current campaign designed to target in-market car buyers, one that tracks people from the moment they begin contemplating making a purchase to the moment they leave their house and head to the dealer.

    According to Sung and McCall, auto brands are currently testing using actual vehicle registration data, blended with data from auto researchers like Polk and location data from their personal mobile devices. The pair showed maps tracking groups of car shoppers as they traveled from place to place in their own neighborhoods, and laid out scenarios where they might be able to deliver ads to these folks as they visit physical dealer locations, and different ads as they go across the street to a competitor’s dealership.

    “We can remarket to consumers who have been to a car lot,” said Sung. “This is about triangulation ... we can do this on a national scale."

    Until recently, behavioral targeting has been limited to retargeting consumers on their desktops based on their Web surfing history, Sung explained. But now, he said, “Where you go is who you are. And we know where you live, where you’ve been and where you are going.”

    Whether or not a mobile banner ad, even with this level of precision targeting, can spark someone to buy a $40,000 car is still very much up for debate (as Weather Company chief global revenue officer Curt Hecht put it during a panel on Thursday), “Banner ads are really difficult on mobile ... most peoples' thumbs accidently click on them.” And many think auto brands have been oversold on the Web.

    Regardless, Sung said brands are already trying these sorts of powerful targeting tactics. And besides mobile ads, Sung added, this data cocktail of vehicle registration and location information could inform TV campaigns and direct mail.

    While such a mobile-heavy, privacy-envelope-pushing approach may make some brands uncomfortable, the auto companies may have no choice, according to Clayton Stanfield, senior manager of dealer outreach for eBay Motors. That’s because the millennial generation, the auto industry’s next crucial target, lives this way.

    Stanfield said that millennials won’t tolerate the typical four-hour experience of buying a car from a dealer. They’ve done all the research on models, financing, etc., and they expect the experience to be quicker than the local sales guy wants. And they expect to be able to whip out their phones to comparison shop while they're walking the car lot. “There’s a huge disconnect,” said Stanfield.

    Lee Nadler, marketing communications manager for Mini USA, concurred. "People used to visit seven dealers. Now its 1.2. They do all the shopping research ahead of time. There is no linear funnel any more. And touch point by touch point, we have to sell cars.”

    Particularly to those millennials—who were a big theme at the show—as the industry grapples with research showing that young Americans care more about smartphones than Mustangs

    One obvious way to court the millennial demo is through social media. During a fiery keynote speech on Wednesday morning, Michael Accavitti, svp of automotive operations for Honda, referenced a socially-led campaign the company executed this past summer centered on the theme of saving American drive-in movie theaters.

    Accavitti also showed clips showcasing Acura’s product placement in Jerry Seinfeld’s Web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, as well a two-minute Web video spot for Honda Civic featuring Nick Cannon (which has reached 2.5 million viewers and generated 70 million impressions) as examples of how the brand is targeting the young digital demo. “We have to figure out how to target millennials, and this increasingly multicultural demographic,” he said. “And we have to try things that might not work.”

    But perhaps tellingly, the culmination of Honda’a social campaign for drive-ins was a warm and fuzzy TV spot. And Accavitti showed four other heart-string-tugging TV spots during his keynote, exhibiting that for all the talk of mobile and social, Honda’s bread and butter is still old-fashioned national TV.


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    The hills were alive with the sound of music. Now, it's the rivers.

    Morihiro Harano, aka "Mori," the creative director behind 2011's stunning "Xylophone" spot for Japanese telecom NTT DoCoMo, is back with a sequel of sorts—though he's now at a different agency and working for a different client.

    The earlier spot, which earned two gold Lions and one silver at Cannes for Tokyo agency Drill, featured a gorgeous 50-yard-long wooden xylophone, tilted down a hillside, which perfectly played Bach's Cantata 147 when a wooden ball was rolled down it (to advertise the wooden casing around Sharp's Touch Wood SH-08C handset). Mori has since opened his own agency, Mori Inc., and now he has teamed up with some of the talent from Drill to produce a new nature-based spot—this time for Sony, using water rather than wood.

    The new ad features gorgeous footage of the riverhead area in Kumamoto on the Japanese island of Kyushu. As with the earlier spot, the new one is all about sound—it uses water sounds recorded around the area to play a version of Pachelbel's Canon.

    What's the connection to the product? "Sony's image sensors are refined using pure natural water, which makes it possible to capture the highest standard of visual images," says a note at the end. That's a slimmer connection than before—and the spot isn't as powerful as "Xylophone," which after all had the incredible instrument as its centerpiece, giving it a grandeur and single-mindedness that the new ad can't match.

    But "Water Rock" is still a lovely piece of work—ambitious and artistic. And like the previous spot, there's a charity element here as well, which is mentioned at the end. For more, check out the making-of video, also posted below.

    CREDITS
    Client: Sony
    Creative Agency: Mori + Drill
    Production Company: Engine Plus + Drawing and Manual + Invisible Design Lab
    Creative Director: Morihiro Harano (Mori)
    Art Director: Jun Nishida (Drill)
    Copywriters: Morihiro Harano, Ankur Rander (Mori)
    Music: Shinya Kiyokawa, Kenjiro Matsuo (Invisible Designs Lab)
    Director: Seiichi Hishikawa (Drawing and Manual)
    Cinematographers: Eitaro Yamamoto (Shadow-Dan), Seiichi Hishikawa, Yutaka Obara (Drawing and Manual)
    Recordist: Toshiro Matsumoto
    Offline Editors: Seiichi Hishikawa, Yutaka Obara (Drawing and Manual), Ryosei Suzuki
    Online Editor: Hitoshi Kimura (Book)
    Mixer: Kazue Akiyama (Book)
    Production Designer: Ken Yamada (Beard)
    Project Manager: Motoko Shimizu (Mori)
    Production Manager: Shinji Urano (Engine Plus)
    Producers: Toshifumi Oiso (Engine Plus), Takashi Ueno (Drawing and Manual)


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    Netflix saw a major increase in subscribers in Q3, bringing in another 1.29 million domestic subs during the quarter (up a whopping 11 percent) and 1.44 million in foreign markets. Earnings at the streaming service beat the street at 52 cents per share in Q3.

    Interestingly, CEO Reed Hastings was cautious as he answered questions from analysts at BTIG and JP Morgan. "Every time I read a story about Netflix as the highest-appreciating stock on the S&P 500, I worry, because that was the exact same headline you used to see in 2003," Hastings said. The exec credited "soft comps" with some of the company's high year-over-year gains, which he said were "not difficult" to achieve. "I wanted to talk honestly about that," he told investors.

    Chief content officer Ted Sarandos spoke a little about viewing patterns on Netflix, which the execs said had resulted in more then 5 billion hours streamed in Q3. "People binge right out of the gate and then settle into a more comfortable viewing pattern," CFO David Wells said. "Unlike other shows that tend to lose audience week over week over week, we accumulate viewers."

    He gave specific examples, as well. "When Orange Is the New Black was nominated for Emmy awards, we saw a bump in users and hours watched among people who were trying the show for the first time and among people who had watched the first few episodes already," he said.

    Wells admitted that Netflix's by-mail business had gotten slower recently. "It has a lot to do with the U.S. postal system and what happened there," said Wells. "When they shut down distribution centers, it limits what we can do."

    Though Hastings said the company was "still not interested in sports," he did tell investors that the company was interested in the film world, encouraging investors to "keep your minds very open" about the kinds of content they'd be working on. "We'd like to do more of that in the movie space—the movies are not coming to Netflix before they hit pay television, almost a year after they've been in theaters, and even though that window is moving, I think we can be more aggressive with windowing," Hastings said. He also suggested that the company would be interested in commissioning documentary programming.

    Regarding the new hardware coming out from Sony and Microsoft at the end of the year, Hastings was again cautious. "I think we'll see very little lift from that. The people who have the PS4 and the Xbox One are the people who already have the PS3 and the Xbox 360," he said. "Do those companies pioneer a model where they [go] from 80 million to 200 million through some combination of price and utility? If they do, that's some ways down the road."

    And the questioners didn't shy away from the controversial: notorious activist investor Carl Icahn now has a large stake in the company, about which, Hastings says, Icahn remains sanguine. "He says he likes people who make him money and so he's happy with me for now."

    There was no discussion of the potential cable deals the company is reportedly seeking.


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