Google (Reportedly) Finally Buys Twitch For $1 Billion

By Jessica Klein

It’s finally happened…as far as the internet buzz is concerned. After months of rumors, Google buckled down and signed the deal to purchase video game streaming service Twitch for $1 billion, according to unnamed sources in a report from VentureBeat.

Though the deal has yet to garner an official announcement, it seems like it was only a matter of time before it went through. Acquiring Twitch marks the logical next step for Google, since gaming YouTube video annotations already had the ability to bring viewers directly to live play on Twitch with a single click. Twitch Live Annotations premiered in June, merging the companies closer to the current deal.

Started by the creators of in 2011, Twitch has raised $35 million in past funding initiatives. Bessemer Venture Partners, WestSummit Capital, Alsop Louie Partners, Thrive Capital, Take-Two Interactive Software, and Draper Associates invest in the game streaming service, which boasts over 45 million users each month.

With YouTube having yet to claim a strong live-viewing option, the acquisition of Twitch will serve to fill a void on the digital video platform. Many users who have live-streamed their game play on YouTube note the hurdles they have to jump through due to copyright, and a common practice of Let’s Players is to upload their footage from Twitch to YouTube.

The acquisition could make the Twitch to YouTube transition more seamless for gamers, but details of the purchase are being kept very much under wraps for now. What we do know is that–if the reports are true–it will end competition between the two platforms.

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.


Internet Celebrities Fine Bros. Debut New React Channel

In an effort to generate new original content with an innovative format, internet celebrities The Fine Bros. have debuted a new React channel which will coexist with one of the biggest channels already present on YouTube. The comedy duo’s new channel will run programming five days a week and incorporate talent from all of their shows.

React will feature more than 100 cast members from Fine Bros.’s Elders React, Teens React and Kids React series showing people’s responses as they watch viral videos. The popular React series will continue to post twice-a-week on their main channel, which has over 9.3 million subscribers on its own.

“What drives us is what drives anyone: We want to create and share content with people,” said Benny, one of the two Fine Bros. to Variety. “We have a big audience, and the end goal is not just to make a living but to grow into a big media company.”

The company Fine Bros. Entertainment currently has 13 full-time employees based in Burbank, Calif.

The other Fine Bro, Raffi, insists the two Brooklyn natives still work “18 hours a day, seven days a week” working to launch new projects. “Instead of slowing down, we’re saying, How far can a company that could never have existed in the old system go ” he said.

Similar to other popular YouTube creators, the Fine Bros. earn a majority of their money through advertising on the site as well as from brand sponsors. For example, the company has created branded content for big-name companies like Universal Studios. While they declined to disclose their revenue, they did say their main channel accumulates more than 100 million views per month.

“We have a series that is something brands can be organically integrated into,” said Benny.

The Fine Bros. work with YouTube multichannel network Fullscreen and are repped by WME and managed by Max Benator.

Source: Variety

Major Copyright Suit Filed Against YouTuber

YouTube has been making millions for popular entrepreneurs who have created unique videos and massive audiences. The future of YouTube video has never looked brighter, but with success there often problems that arise.

Ultra Records, which has signed up musicians like Kaskade, deadmau5 and Calvin Harris, claims that popular YouTube personality Michelle Phan has been using some of their songs without proper permission. The result is that Ultra Records has filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement by Phan, and claiming she has used 50 of their songs without permission in her popular YouTube videos and on her web site.

Ultra Records is asking for a serious amount of damages, too – $150,000 per song, which would add up to a hefty $7.5 million dollars if Phan is found liable to pay that entire judgment. Phan has built up an audience of over 6 million subscribers who eagerly follow her makeup tutorials. Her most popular video, the Barbie Transformation Tutorial, has been viewed 50 million times, and her video on reproducing Lady Gaga’s look has been viewed 45 million times.

One of the odd twists in the lawsuit is that one of the musicians that Ultra Records featured in the suit (and, in fact, the most prominently featured musician), Kaskade, is on Phan’s side in the dispute. “Copyright law is a dinosaur, ill-suited for the landscape of today’s media,” said Kaskade on Twitter. He expressed his disbelief that his own record label was suing Ms. Phan for copyright infringement. “And the kicker . . . they’re citing her using my songs for the suit. Come. On,” he tweeted. The Grammy-nominated Kaskade said there was little he could do to stop the label from pursuing the case.

“Your music inspired not just myself, but millions of my followers to dance and dream on,” Phan responded to Kaskade.

Ultra Records filed the suit in California, and they are also seeking an injunction to prevent Phan from continuing to use their music. Ultra Records claims it has “sustained and will continue to sustain substantial, immediate and irreparable injury” as a result of Phan’s use of its copyrighted music.

A spokesman for Phan said the lawsuit “lacks any merit” because “Ultra agreed to allow Michelle to use the music and Michelle intends to fight this lawsuit and bring her own claims against Ultra.” Further, the spokesman said, “Michelle’s intention has always been to promote other artists, creating a platform for their work to be showcased to an international audience. Kaskade, whose music has been featured in Michelle’s videos, has publicly defended Michelle against Ultra’s claims and acknowledges the success he’s gained from her support.”

This will need to get sorted out in court, but certainly the case will be watched closely by other YouTube stars. It certainly seems like YouTube videos would be a great way for musicians to get their music more widely noticed, and benefit both parties. The devil is in the details, though, and all parties will need to feel that the agreements are fair and equitable.

Source: BBC

That Darth Car Is Some Hot Wheels

You may know Darth Vader as the dark lord of the Sith in Star Wars, but what you didn’t know is what kind of wheels he’d drive if he was here on Earth. Some pretty Hot Wheels, it turns out. Mattel’s using the occasion of San Diego Comic Con to launch its new Star Wars Hot Wheels line, and the company has chosen an interesting promotional vehicle – or rather, had one created by PCW Brands.

The Darth Car is based on a C5 Corvette, with a body crafted mostly from fiberglass (with carbon fiber used on the front splitter), and the result weighs almost half of the standard Corvette. The chassis was lowered slightly, giving it an even more ominous look. It’s perfectly street-legal, too, and it’s been road-test up to 80 mph – though PCW Brands CEO Billy Hammon says the Darth Car could hit up to 150 mph.

What’s under the helmet It’s not scarred and ugly, it’s a GM LS3 V8 engine that is tuned to put out 526 horsepower. Hey, the Sith Lord doesn’t want to be left behind at a stop light. Of course, the Darth Car uses a six-speed manual transmission, which no doubt can be handled telekinetically if you’re so inclined (and have the requisite Force skills). The Darth Car also has a secondary, hand-acutated drift brake on the rear axle for when you need to outmaneuver a pesky landspeeder on a curve.

The Darth Car is fully armed and operational, outfitted with plenty of fine Hot Wheels touches – like the logo on the side. The wheels are custom-milled for the Darth Car, and the unique tires are high-performance while also deliving the Hot Wheels look. The missiles mounted on the side are machined from stainless steel, and the side pipes look just like Lord Vader’s light saber – and of course, they are illuminated. Not to omit the special sounds of Star Wars, the car can emit the unmistakable sounds of Vader breathing and his light saber activating, all controllable remotely via an iPad.

Oh, and just to top things off, the hatch opens like Darth Vader’s helmet, and includes a smoke machine to generate the appropriate vapor when opening. The Darth Car took seven weeks from final design to completion, and it’s already causing jaws to drop wherever it goes – and generating interest in Mattel’s new Star Wars Hot Wheels line, too.

Source: Car and Driver


Up To Half Of Redbox Rentals Result In Purchase

Game publishers have traditionally viewed game rentals with a jaundiced eye, presuming that people who rent a game for a day or two won’t be buying the game, and thus represent a lost sale. Not so, avers Redbox’s director of video games Ryan Calnan. While an increasing number of people are streaming games and downloading games, there’s still plenty of game sales happening. Game rentals are also growing in popularity, and Redbox says that leads to more game sales.

“We have a 20-50 percent conversion rate of people buying a game after they’ve tried it through Redbox,” Calnan said. “The percentage varies depending on the time of year, but it’s a very healthy conversion of rent-to-purchase rate.”

Redbox operates rental kiosks for DVDs. Blu-ray discs and video games at more than 35,000 locations across North America. Customers can rent popular games for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii. Some kiosks in selected areas offer PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Wii U games as well.

Game rentals gives publishers a way to engage with a customer without requiring that massive initial purchase. If the game is good, getting some hands-on time can convince a customer to buy the game. Just as with mobile games, console games are facing the discovery problem, and rentals help solve that for publishers. “It gives them the ability to reach beyond the hardcore gamer,” Calnan said. “And it offers publishers an incremental revenue opportunity.”

Redbox has been trying some promotions in conjunction with publishers like Square Enix and Deep Silver. The promotions for Saints Row 4 and Thief led to an increase in incremental purchases from customers who normally wouldn’t identify as gamers. “There is still a very big emotional attachment to the physical media,” Calnan said. “And a lot of people have slow internet connections and can experience extremely long download times. So I think Redbox has a very strong place in the gaming industry.”

Source: Polygon

The Ghost In The Xbox Machine

Video games have been part of our culture for more than a generation now, and there effect can reach far beyond a few minutes or even hours of fun. Video games may still be largely concerned with basic motor functions rather than evoking and dealing with emotions and grappling with issues like life and death, but even so they can sometimes touch our hearts. Finding those stories and telling them should be something every game marketer should consider, because that can have a very powerful impact.

A recent example comes from a teenage YouTube commenter (00WARTHERAPY00) in the comments section of a piece talking about whether or not games can be a spiritual experience. Here’s what he had to say:

Well, when i was 4, my dad bought a trusty Xbox. you know, the first, ruggedy, blocky one from 2001. we had tons and tons and tons of fun playing all kinds of games together – until he died, when i was just six.

I couldn’t touch that console for 10 years.

but once I did, I noticed something.

we used to play a racing game, Rally Sports Challenge. actually pretty awesome for the time it came.

and once I started meddling around… I found a GHOST.


you know, when a time race happens, that the fastest lap so far gets recorded as a ghost driver yep, you guessed it – his ghost still rolls around the track today.

and so i played and played, and played, until i was almost able to beat the ghost. until one day i got ahead of it, i surpassed it, and…

i stopped right in front of the finish line, just to ensure i wouldn’t delete it.


Fellow commenters were quite moved by the story, some of them confessing to tears. According to Yahoo Autos, the teenager’s comments have gone viral since being picked up by various publications, and he says he’s overwhelmed by the response, saying he “just commented on a video, which happened to be about spirituality in video games” and “never expected any of this.”

What a wonderful way to remember a lost father, and a beautiful example of the meaning that games can hold – even when that’s not the intent of the designer.

Source: Yahoo Autos

When Facebook Ads Aren’t Ads

Facebook’s revenue reached new heights in the last quarter, propelling its share price to a post-IPO high, as ad sales have surged on the social giant. Meanwhile, Facebook has also been dialing back the viral reach of brands on its news feed algorithm, which has reduced organic reach. So far, though, Facebook hasn’t treated native ads as advertising, and brands and publishers jumping through this loophole with glee.

When a publishers posts one of its native ads to its own Facebook page, Facebook registers that as an editorial posting rather than as a brand post. “As far as the algorithm goes, they are not treated as ads,” said Facebook spokesman Tim Rathschmidt. Major publishers are not shy about using this to their advantage, as the native Netflix ad in The New York Times showed. If Netflix had just put that on its own Facebook page, it wouldn’t have gotten the reach seen when The New York Times‘ in-house team created it, which meant it was treated like editorial when it was posted to Facebook.

So The New York Times is busily posting these ads to its T Brand Studio Facebook page, where they are getting good reach. The Netflix piece saw 4,952 Facebook likes, 1,053 Facebook comments and 1,860 Facebook shares for a total of 7,865 Facebook interactions as of July 22, according to social media analytics company SimpleReach.

Other publishers like Forbes simply post the ads to the same Facebook pages where they post editorial, so the reach for native ads is even greater. Forbes’ chief revenue officer Mark Howard said reach on Facebook posts for Forbes’ native ads is “comparable” to the reach Forbes editorial posts typically see. “There’s no statistically significant difference,” Howard said. Because “the social Web is a meritocracy,” brands have as much of an opportunity to generate a readership as publishers do, he added.

Source: DigiDay

3BlackDot Ties Game And IP Creation With Sponsors

At Casual Connect in San Francisco, 3BlackDot co-founders and former Machinima division heads Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton, along with former Duck Dynasty co-executive producer Hank Stepleton, unveiled their new influencer-driven entertainment company. The co-founders have partnered with top-ranked YouTube gaming influencers Adam Montoya (SeaNanners – 4.5 million subscribers) and Tom Cassell (TheSyndicateProject – 7.6 million subscribers) to open up new opportunities for brands to connect with gamers and the 13-34 year-old gaming demographic.

3BlackDot focuses on four main influencer-driven specialties:

In partnership with Section Studios, the first 3BlackDot studio initiative includes development of entertainment franchise Zombie Killer Squad in Nov. 2013. The mobile game quickly garnered one million installs in the first nine days, making it one of the fastest growing games to reach this number in history. It reached to the top spot of #1 App in the Apple iTunes store in the U.K., Canada, Australia and #2 App in the U.S. With more than 2.6 million installs, Zombie Killer Squad will release a game update that incorporates two additional YouTube gaming personalities — ihascupquake (1.6 million subscribers) and TmarTn (1.7 million subscribers).

Executive producer Hank Stepleton heads up the PickAxe production arm, whose first project is a live-action short film based on Zombie Killer Squad. The trailer to the film will debut at the 3BlackDot Influencer Lounge and launch party at San Diego Comic-Con.

3BlackDot also creates and builds campaigns for entertainment properties and brands such as Machete Kills for 20th Century Fox, Volkswagen #NowYouKnow, Office Depot and Disney Infinity. Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton explain what they learned from Machinima and how they plan on utilizing YouTube Influencers to grow new cross-platform IP in this exclusive interview.

What does the company name mean?

Angelo Pullen: It is a play off of ellipses, to communicate that there is always more to come.

Luke Stepleton: Ellipsis . . .  or ‘And then’ or ‘more to come.’

What did you learn from your time at Machinima that you’re applying to this new company?

Angelo Pullen

Angelo Pullen: Machinima was a great opportunity for us to work with a myriad of large brands and we gained an expertise in organically integrating a brand’s messaging into the YouTube ecosystem, while driving massive viewership and engagement. We were also very successful at building audiences around premium content online for shows such as Halo: Forward Unto Dawn and Battlestar Galactica, which is something else we look forward to putting to use with our production arm “PickAxe.”

Luke Stepleton: Machinima was a great place for me, truly enjoyed learning and working with a good group of people. The most valuable opportunity Machinima afforded me was the experience and ability to work with both brands and influencers.

How has YouTube evolved since its inception?

Angelo Pullen: YouTube started off similar to many other platforms, giving its creators tools to share and communicate. However, the creation of the partnership program and the concept of a platform sharing its ad revenue with the creators that are helping build its audience was one of the single most important moves for a platform to date.

Luke Stepleton: Loads, more than any one person can possibly provide a single answer for. The core of what makes it a wonderful platform hasn’t changed. The single most important change that YouTube implemented was the Partnership program. For me, this may go down as one of the most socially important and impactful decisions made by any corporation in the last 50 years.

What’s the secret to turning YouTube followers into customers?

Angelo Pullen: Authenticity. Provide something that the Influencer and their community actually care about.

Luke Stepleton: Not forgetting the ‘You’ of YouTube, and working closely with influencers to speak authentically to their audience.

Luke Stepleton

What did you learn from your first mobile game, Zombie Killer Squad, when it comes to connecting with Youtube influencers?

Angelo Pullen: Give the YouTube Influencer the freedom to drive the creative direction of the game, specifically for their respective communities, and you will succeed.

Luke Stepleton: Every creative process and production offers its own unique set of learning opportunities. Working creatively with YouTubers to produce a game is no different than producing a movie or film. It takes the creative input of everyone involved to make it great.

What role will game development play in your company moving forward?

Angelo Pullen: A significant role. We are looking to become a legitimate player in the world of game publishing. Our focus will be on becoming the predominant publisher of Influencer driven games, developing engaging IP that is creatively driven and marketed by Influencers.

Luke Stepleton: Game development is a cornerstone for 3Blackdot, allowing us to work with a truly engaged community.

What opportunities do you see on Youtube when it comes to production?

Angelo Pullen: We are really excited about our production arm, PickAxe, which will be focusing on developing Influencer Driven content for Over-The-Top (OTT) outlets, but incubating the content on YouTube first. We believe that working with Influencers to develop premium content for their respective communities and then letting the community decide if they would like to see more, creates a unique opportunity to mitigate the risk that many other traditional producers are met with, while also increasing the LTV of a viewer for the OTT. It all starts on YouTube.

Luke Stepleton: There are significant opportunities for production on YouTube moving forward. 3BD plans on utilizing YouTube as a place to develop audience and IP. Working with the community on IP development, through the YouTube platform, is a key differentiator for us.

What does Hank Stepleton bring to the table for original series for online?

Angelo Pullen: Hank brings a proven track record of creating content that sells. Hank has produced 12 major TV shows and most recently served as executive producer of the popular American Reality TV Show, Duck Dynasty. Duck Dynasty has broken several ratings records on both A&E and cable television as a whole. The fourth season premiere drew 11.8 million viewers, the most-watched non-fiction cable series in history. Hank will develop content and pitches for digital outlets, as well as traditional cable outlets.

Luke Stepleton: Hank brings a level of professionalism that enables 3BD to immediately become a force in the content production realm. Oh, and he is my brother, whose intelligence, integrity, hard work ethic, and dogged persistence have been integral in my professional development.

Adam Montoya

With so many TVs offering YouTube anyway, how do you see the concept of entertainment evolving across devices?

Angelo Pullen: I think with the creation of more platforms and content, we will start to see more and more serialized content being created for specific niche communities/demographics and they will be offered up to people to consume the content where they like, when they like.

Luke Stepleton: The most difficult part about the future is “Discoverability,” it is an uphill battle for all content creators. 3Blackdot solves the problem of discoverability for its clients on the agency side of our business, as well as for our own IP.

What opportunities does Android TV open up for you as game developers and entertainment creators?

Angelo Pullen: I think with services such as Android TV and Amazon Fire TV, the barrier of entry for indie game developers & publishers has dropped significantly. It’s an exciting time when you create content and games that are platform & device agnostic and can be played on your big screen or taken with you on your mobile device, while still providing a seamless engaging experience.

Luke Stepleton: Android TV is a huge opportunity for 3BD. We are stoked to work with OTTs on developing content with audience already in mind — working with the influencers and their audience to develop IP that appeals to massive cross platform audiences.

What role will YouTubers play in the actual company?

Angelo Pullen: Adam “SeaNanners” Montoya, and Tom “TheSyndicateProject” Cassell are two of our co-founders and partners in 3BlackDot. Not only do they share our vision, but are providing much of the creative direction for our games and content. Moving forward, we look to partner with more YouTube and social media Influencers who share our collective vision towards building exciting IP, content, and games.

Tom Cassell

Luke Stepleton: Adam and Tom are co-founders in 3BlackDot, and like all co-founders they will play an important role: From developing IP creatively, to input on how to more authentically to work with audiences, and finally as thought leaders in their respective space.

Will you be an official YouTube partner and host YouTubers and creators (like Machinima did)?

Angelo Pullen: We do have a collective of YouTubers that is a part of 3BD, but for the time being, we are not looking to aggregate a massive amount of channels. We are much more focused on partnering with YouTubers who are like-minded and want to create compelling assets (i.e. games and content)

Luke Stepleton: Though we understand the correlation to Machinima, our desire is to partner with content creators to create value with influence. Empowering both the company and content creators to deliver truly engaging entertainment properties.

How will you work with consumer brands across gaming and entertainment?

Angelo Pullen: My and Luke’s core competency while at Machinima was working with consumer brands and helping them authentically integrate their products and services into the YouTube ecosystem. As we move forward, we are excited about all of the new ways we can leverage new technology, games and content to drive engaged audiences to a brand’s products and services. We believe the definition of branded entertainment is going to take an entirely new shape as we begin to harness the power of mobile devices.

Luke Stepleton: 3BlackDot firmly believes that any demographic can be reached by leveraging “Peer to Peer” marketing techniques. We firmly believe the most difficult part of the future is discoverability, and that goes for brands as well as content creators. Working with the Influencers inside the YouTube and social media eco-systems can empower any brand to strategically target their desired demo.


What Facebook’s Q2 Earnings Tell Us About The Future of Advertising

Most web publishers are seeing more than half of their traffic coming from readers who are on mobile devices, but so far the advertising dollars have not kept up with the shift to digital, even less so with the shift to mobile. That is, until now.

In Facebook’s impressive earnings report from Q2 2014 released yesterday, it was revealed that revenue was $2.91 billion, up 61 percent from $1.81 billion during the same period last year. What’s more, nearly two thirds of those revenues came from mobile ads. It represents a wide gap in favor of mobile and illustrates that a fundamental shift is not just under way, but has already happened. So what finally made the difference

According to the ad exchange OpenX, more than half of the effective mobile campaigns are now being delivered in a native format. With banners ads proven ineffective on the web and even less so on mobile, Facebook pioneered this format which allows advertisers to present their marketing messages in a less intrusive manner in the news stream with the same look and feel “in-stream”.

Native is the “killer app” that advertisers were waiting for in order to shift serious ad dollars over to mobile. Facebook is already banking a lot of those mobile dollars with company operating margins at 48 percent in the second quarter. They are now focusing on getting native right on other platforms such as Instagram as well.

We can expect similar advertising results from other publishers as they trim and tweak their own “in-stream” ad offering.



ION Introduces The Brand Channel Network

ION, Ayzenberg Group’s proprietary platform that curates and activates online influencers, today announced the addition of the Brand Channel Network (BCN) to their offerings. BCN helps brands discover, connect and amplify influencers, allowing brand marketers to create and own their influencer networks in order to co-create engaging and meaningful branded content over long running campaigns.

At the upcoming [a]list summit – Influencer Marketing, taking place on July 31 at The Line Hotel in Los Angeles, ION Executive Director Robert Brill will be officially launching BCN to over 300 brand marketers in attendance.

Combining API connections into the largest social networks and algorithmic analysis of influencer metadata, the BCN finds the perfect influencers and advocates for brands and marketers. The product is built from ION’s institutional knowledge, technology licenses and proprietary reporting toolset.  Marketers also benefit from Ayzenberg Group’s two decades of creative and brand strategy pedigree.

The BCN provides four major benefits: (1) Brands take greater control of their influencer marketing efforts and earn economies of scale with the BCN. (2) Marketers own influencer relationships, rather than renting them from third parties.  (3) Content that gets created lives in perpetuity online. (4) Finally, marketers obtain the influencers’ audience data which they get to own and use for remarketing.

Additionally, ION boasts a growing stable of their own influencers, ION Community, who work with marketers by sharing and creating content. The BCN and ION Community are expansions of ION’s core business of creating and activating influencer campaigns. ION clients also benefit from strong partner relationships with Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs).

ION and the BCN provide aggregated reach across social networks including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram and Twitch. Unlike traditional media, ads are not confined, intrusive or in the periphery of user attention.  Clients like Sony Online Entertainment, Warner Bros. Studios and EA have seen the benefit of high quality content, trusted voices and extended reach for three years.

About ION

ION is Ayzenberg’s program that discovers, curates and activates a network of online influencers to promote products and brands through the creation and distribution of custom content. For more information, please visit

About Ayzenberg Group

One of the ten largest privately held creative firms on the West Coast, Ayzenberg is a full-service advertising agency with a distinctly social and agile approach. We’re all about creating and sharing brand stories–in a real-time, always-on, multi-screen way. We have advertising, social media, digital, original content, media planning and implementation, analytics and more under one roof, working as one. From videogame to beverage and consumer electronic brands, our clients value how we target, convert and generate traction with today’s connected ‘Gen Now’ consumers. Current clients include Activision, EA, Microsoft, Red Bull, Sony, Mattel, Yahoo!, Disney, and Warner Bros. For more information, please visit


Robert Brill

Executive Director, ION

626-584-4070 Ext. 510