Netflix, Amazon Are Going To The Golden Globes

by Sahil Patel

The Golden Globes nominations are in, and as expected, Netflix and Amazon are in the thick of it.

Netflix landed seven total nominations, three for its political drama “House of Cards,” another three for its prison dramedy “Orange Is the New Black,” and one for the Ricky Gervais comedy “Derek.”

“House of Cards” is nominated in the best drama category, where it will compete with Showtime’s “The Affair,” PBS’ “Downton Abbey,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” and CBS’ “The Good Wife.” The show also netted acting nominations for its two main actors, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

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Day 6 Teams With NBA For ‘Backyard Sports’

A few years ago, sports games based on the Backyard Sports franchise were making the rounds, offering kids more user-friendly versions of popular sports that they could enjoy with their friends and family alike. Now, it appears that these games are on the comeback trail.

Day 6 Sports Group has announced that it has teamed up with the National Basketball Association to re-launch the Backyard Sports franchise, which will once again focus on kiddie-oriented sports and feature popular athletes. The line of games is expected to be released for both smartphone and tablet devices.

The first game in the series is expected to be Backyard Sports Basketball, and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry will appear both on the cover and in the game. “I grew up playing Backyard Sports, and having an opportunity to help bring it back to this generation of children is something I’m really thrilled about,” said Curry.

“Re-launching a brand that was so iconic is an exciting step for us,” said Jim Wagner, CEO for Day 6 Sports Group. “And partnering with the NBA and Stephen Curry is the perfect way for us to engage with both our existing community of fans, as well as the next generation of Backyard Sports players.”

No other franchises in the series have been discussed as of yet, but some announcements could come in the weeks ahead, leading to a strong 2015 run for the franchise.

There’s also no word if Day 6 will consider bringing the games back to consoles, as Backyard Sports originally got its start on older game systems. Again, more details should be revealed in the months ahead.

Considering the popularity of mainstream sports games like Madden NFL 15, NBA 2K15 and other titles, this should be a strong move for Day 6 – and it never hurts to have devoted athletes on board to play along with, even if they are in kid form.

Mobile Gaming Install Base Clears One Billion

We’ve talked many times about how big mobile gaming has become, as well as how some companies have shifted their business entirely to the mobile realm (like, most recently, Kabam). However, according to a new report from the IDC, they’re a lot better than most people may have realized.

Gamesindustry International has reported that the study shows that the worldwide installed base for mobile devices, including both smartphones and tablets, has gone past one billion. This is counting devices that have been used for some form of gaming — quick or long sessions — for “at least once every three months.” And those numbers add up to a lot.

“Mobile gaming has rapidly emerged as the brightest star in the gaming universe,” said IDC’s research director of gaming, Lewis Ward. “The number of games downloaded to smartphones and tablets worldwide will nearly double to more than 60 billion games between 2014 and 2018. In this context, it will become increasingly difficult for the major handheld game console providers to compete effectively. The market as a whole will grow rapidly, though, and swing dramatically in the direction of Asia/Pacific and Android-based devices in particular by 2018.”

As you can see from the chart below, there’s been a big of growth over the years, but it’s could get even bigger in just a few years’ time, with a total of 60 billion worldwide in a span of four years.

IDC also explained that 44 percent of mobile devices used worldwide are now primarily used for gaming purposes. A big chunk of that is placed in North America, with over 157 million smartphones and tablets used to play games this year alone — that’s an eight percent increase over the previous year. In addition, around 48 million people paid for some form of game for 2014, totaling a revenue of around $4.8 billion.

When it comes to a defining leader, however, IDC believes that the Apple App Store has a lead over Google Play {link no longer active} “by a healthy margin,” despite the large growth of interest in Android devices.

And when it comes to popularity of devices, smartphones rule. “Since smartphones are far more ubiquitous than tablets, even though tablet gamers tend to more often pay for mobile games (tablet gamers have a higher ARPPU), over three-quarters of all mobile game revenue will still be generated on smartphones in North America this year,” Ward said.

Online multiplayer also plays a huge part in mobile gaming success, according to Ward — especially online role-playing adventures. “The time is ripe for mobile MOBAs. In 2015, we’re likely to see some breakout hits in this direction. The 4G LTE infrastructure is to the point that a critical mass of mobile MOBA gamers can form, and the latency is low enough that gamers on cellular can compete effectively against those playing on WiFi,” Ward explained. “One of the big barriers to mobile MOBAs, however, is the fact that multiplayer VOIP is hamstrung. It’s basically very tough to do live co-op games that leverage VOIP today, so this important, team-based aspect of MOBAs is practically missing from mobile environment. Part of the issue here in the U.S. is that there are 911 system integration issues to be worked out on smartphones (that of course don’t apply on PCs or consoles).

“There’s still every reason to believe that the sophistication of mobile games will take a big stride forward in 2015, and part of this evolution will be about delivering richer live, team-based interactions. The eSports phenomenon will spill over onto smartphones and tablets in 2015.”

Obviously, the growth will continue — and be quite impressive, at that.

November Retail Sales: Xbox Triumphant, Retail Down

This has been an interesting year at retail for the console business, as month after month the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One kept hardware sales well above last year’s sales levels for hardware, while software lagged far behind last year. Now, we’ve finally reached the one year mark for the next-generation consoles, so we can compare hardware sales with the same lineup of consoles available from 2013 and 2014. The news wasn’t good overall, as retail sales dropped 11 percent from last year’s $2.71 billion to $2.41 billion.

For the first time this year, hardware sales were down much more than software; hardware sales dropped 23 percent to $1.01 billion from last year’s $1.31 billion. Meanwhile, software was down only 2 percent to $1.06 billion from last year’s $1.08 billion. Some of this may have been due to the substantially lower pricing for most of the Xbox One consoles sold, as Microsoft dropped the price to $349 (less with some of the Black Friday deals).

NPD’s Liam Callahan did his best to present the positive side of the numbers. “For the most part throughout 2014, we have seen software declines that were offset by year-over-year increases in hardware spending,” said Callahan. “This November, however, hardware declines totaled $294 million while software declined $17 million or 2 percent. Accessory sales increased by a modest $5 million.”

“Currently, year-to-date sales across hardware, software, and accessories through November 2014 are up 2 percent,” said Callahan. That’s a tribute to the strong sales of expensive new consoles at retail, not to retail sales of software. In particular, the sales of software for last-generation consoles have been a significant disappointment to publishers, coming in well below expectations in general.

Though there were solid promotional deals for Black Friday, sales of the latest consoles were disappointing. “While the majority of the decrease in dollar sales of hardware stemmed from an expected drop of seventh generation console sales, eighth generation sales also decreased and represented 38 percent of the total declines in hardware sales from November 2013 to November 2014,” Callahan said. “Despite a decline in dollar sales, hardware unit sales for eighth generation consoles increased by 3 percent over November 2013.”

Still, the promotional efforts of the console makers were important. “Hardware bundles were a major factor in the sales of hardware this November, with a number of new bundles ranking as the highest selling hardware bundles so far this year with one bundle ranking as the highest selling hardware bundle ever based on dollar sales,” Callahan said. Overall, though, the new consoles are off to a much better start than the last generation. “Cumulative PS4 and Xbox One sales are now almost 80 percent higher than the combined total of PS3 and Xbox 360 sales after 13 months on the market.”

The software side of the retail game business was a mixed bag. “Software declines stemmed from losses from console software as portable software and PC Games software increased over November 2013,” Callahan said. “Portable software increased by 25 percent due to the combined performance Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon Omega Ruby, and Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS. PC game sales increased by 34 percent over November 2013 due to The Sims 4 and the launch of World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords Of Draenor.”

Callahan provided more detail between sales of last-gen console software and the current consoles. “Seventh generation console sales combined to decrease by 49 percent or $361 million from November 2013,” he said. “Eighth generation console software sales and portable software sales increased by $342 million and could not offset the losses stemming from seventh generation console.”

One title that you won’t see in the top ten list this month is Minecraft, which has been a fixture in the best-selling list for over a year. Is interest finally waning, or is it just that newer software commanded much more attention It will be interesting to see if Minecraft returns to the bestseller list once the holidays have passed.

While NPD didn’t mention which console sold the most in November, Microsoft was quick to rectify that omission. “We are committed to making Xbox the best place to play, with this year’s best games, the best community of gamers to play with, and terrific value,” said Mike Nichols, the corporate vice president of Xbox marketing, in a statement. “And we are amazed by the excitement Xbox fans have shown to start off this holiday. November set a new record for sales of Xbox One, and Xbox One was the best-selling console in the U.S. and U.K.”

“Response to the holiday lineup of games on Xbox One was incredible, with Xbox One fans buying more games in November in the U.S. than any other gen eight platform and enjoying over 357 million hours of gameplay globally. In fact, more fans logged into Xbox Live across Xbox One and Xbox 360, and enjoyed more entertainment, than any other month in the history of Xbox. We love to see the excitement from our fans and are grateful for their passion, support and contributions to the Xbox community.”

Sony also issued a statement, highlighting the fact that while the Xbox One may have sold well in November, the PS4 is still well in the lead in terms of overall units sold. “We are thrilled with the incredible momentum seen at retail heading into the holiday shopping season,” a Sony spokesperson said. “PS4 is the cumulative leader in hardware sales and was No. 1 on the Amazon Video Games Bestseller list on Black Friday. On the network side, November was the biggest month ever in PlayStation Store history with a nearly 50 percent increase in unique visitors compared to last year.”

Nintendo also posted a statement about its November sales successes. “Sales of Wii U hardware and software increased by more than 10% and more than 90 percent, respectively, over the same period in 2013. In fact, the week of Nov. 23 was the biggest single week of Wii U hardware sales since the system launched in November 2012,” Nintendo’s statement noted. The company also pointed out that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has sold nearly 710,000 combined units since launching on Nov. 21. By “combined units,” Nintendo means sales of both the physical and the digital version of the software. (Interestingly, that gives you a data point to guess the unit sales of other titles on the NPD best-seller list, as only Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Grand Theft Auto V sold more units.)

While Super Smash Bros. has done quite well so far, it doesn’t appear to have had a huge boost on Wii U sales — a mere 10 percent boost in console sales over last year isn’t going to give the Wii U the momentum it needs to catch up to the Xbox One and the PS4. Still, Nintendo has some excellent sales from the new Pokemon games and the Amiibo line, and with a new Zelda title in the wings for next year interest should pick up for the Wii U.

November 2014 Top 10 Games Publisher
1. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (360, XBO, PS4, PS3, PC)** Activision Blizzard
2. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)** Take 2 Interactive
3. Super Smash Bros. (NWU, 3DS)** Nintendo
4. Madden NFL 15 (360, XBO, PS4, PS3)** Electronic Arts
5. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire (3DS) Nintendo
6. Far Cry 4 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)** Ubisoft
7. Pokemon Omega Ruby (3DS) Nintendo
8. NBA 2K15 (PS4, 360, XBO, PS3, PC) Take 2 Interactive
9. Assassin’s Creed: Unity (PS4, XBO, PC)** Ubisoft
10. Halo: The Master Chief Collection (XBO) Microsoft

**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)

Brands: Now’s The Time To Get On Imgur (If You Haven’t Already)

Imgur, a fast-growing image-sharing network popular with creators and fans of memetic content, is planning on generating revenue and sustaining its growth by introducing “Promoted Posts” next year.

Recently-hired vice president of market development Steve Patrizi said Imgur, fresh off of a $40 million round of funding from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is looking to take a different tack to sponsored content than similar websites through a distinct embrace of native advertising.

“Rather than doing wallpaper stuff or crazy banners, we think there’s something very powerful that can come from a brand that’s not overly commercialized, that looks and feels like other posts there,” said Patrizi.

Though this isn’t the first time Imgur has deployed sponsored content, Patrizi — formerly of LinkedIn and Pinterest — says Promoted Posts are different in that they will be something more than a beta test. Imgur’s old brand of ad packages, called Sponsored Posts, was an experimental initiative designed to learn best practices for native ads and build positive working relationships for brands without alienating their user base. Sponsored Posts were given prominent placement on Imgur’s homepage; Promoted Posts, by comparison, will appear after users click on organic content.

This may solve a problem with engagement rates, as Imgur had previously said that Sponsored Posts garnered engagement rates of one to four percent.

Interestingly, brands will not be able to target Promoted Posts to specific demographics, only the entire website. Patrizi explained this decision by pointing to Imgur’s sense of community, stating that the site is more likely to enjoy and talk about an ad that can be viewed by everyone as opposed to a select group of people.

Imgur hopes to roll out Promoted Posts in July, working with a select handful of brands in the gaming, entertainment, and packaged-goods industries to deliver content relevant to their audience.

UPS and Tesla are among the biggest names interested in advertising with Imgur, emboldened by test Sponsored Posts campaigns with upvote rates of ninety percent. Brands are hoping that Imgur’s strong sense of community and embrace of native advertising will allow them to connect with their markets on an intimate level competing social networks might not allow.

What Instagram’s Growth Means For Marketers

Instagram has notched up 300 million users, making the social network larger than Twitter. That’s a surprise to some observers, given that Instagram came from far behind Twitter to reach that goal. But it’s indicative of the strong hold that visual media has on people. Pictures and videos are inherently more attractive to the eye than text, and that’s something that marketers and social media are well aware of these days. This milestone is a solid indicator of this trend, and the implications are both numerous and important for marketers.

Instagram has been growing strongly for four years now, though many feared that its acquisition by Facebook might derail it. Instead, Facebook kept its hgands off, and Instagram has added another 100 million users in the last nine months to reach its 300 million total. Impressively, some 70 perfect  of those users are outside of the United States, and 70 million photos are shared every day. Over 30 billion photos have been shared over Instagram.

Let’s not forget that this is indeed a part of Facebook’s social media empire, and that the social network has been very successful in its strategy of pursuing growth through individual apps rather than trying to fold every possible feature into one app. Facebook has 1.35 billion users, with its Messenger app notching up 500 million users. Then there’s WhatsApp with 600 million users in addition to Instagram’s 300 million. Sure, there’s plenty of overlap between those apps, but the key point is that Facebook is janging onto all of those folks by offering different apps. The company is far and away the leader in social media, well ahead of WeChat’s 468 million users.

Instagram’s success has been influential on Facebook, too. Facebook has been increasingly featuring photos and videos in its News Feed, reshaping the algorithms to make the whole site more visual. It’s to the point where, for the first time, Facebook Page owners uploaded more video directly to Facebook than they did sharing from YouTube, according to data from Socialbakers. Why According to Business Insider, “Marketers and content creators are starting to realize there is more value in publishing a video directly to Facebook than there is uploading it to YouTube alone.”

A key difference is that Facebook is surfacing videos to users in the news feed, while users have to seek out videos on YouTube. Requiring a search is an extra step that that keeps videos from reaching a wider audience, apparently. Video is still king though, in terms of traffic volume. Facebook and YouTube combined accounted for nearly 40 percent of all mobile web traffic in North America in September. As BI Intelligence’s Mark Hoelzel points out, “Ads make up a big percentage of Facebook’s and YouTube’s mobile traffic, since autoplay video ads increase the mobile data demands on those social networks.”

Instagram is taking the occasion of this news to announce that it’s going to start handing out verified accounts, the kind that Twitter users love to get. The verified badges will be for public figures and brands, Instagram said. Verified badges, coming within the week, “will make it easier for people to identify and follow the authentic brands they care about,” Instagram told Adweek. “When an account is verified, a blue badge will appear next to its name in its profile as well as in search.”

Verfying users has been a benefit to Twitter, and Facebook started verifying profiles in May of 2013. This is going to keep out the plethora of fake celebrities, parody, or look-alike accounts that make life more difficult for brand marketers. In addition, Instagram said it’s moved from deactivating spammer and fake accounts to simply deleting them, so they will no longer appear in follower counts.

The rise of Instagram shows the power of visual marketing. “Instagram users are highly engaged with the service, with users interacting with posts at 18 times the rate they do with Facebook posts, according to a report issued last month by the research firm L2,” noted The New York Times.

What does this mean for marketers It’s a massive shift in the overall thought process that goes into creating a marketing campaign. Yes, you have to decide on a product’s position and conceptualize every aspect of how you will get your marketing messages across to the target audience. That used to be done primarily with words, and then images or videos would be created later to help bring that message across.

Now, though, it may be helpful to start by conceptualizing the images first, and come up with the words later. Find or imagine that snippet of video that gets across the essence of the brand, then figure out how to describe it in words. Why? Because those images and videos will be the most effective tools to reach the visually-oriented customers that comprise today’s market. Expect to see more moves by social media to focus on video and images as a key way to grab and hold attention.

Biggest Marketing Moves: December 12

Here are some of the top personnel moves in marketing last week. Our congratulations to these people taking on new challenges!

Discovery Digital Networks Nabs Jeremy Azevedo From Machinima: Azevedo was previously Machinima’s creative director of original programming and will now head Discovery Digital Networks in Los Angeles.

Former Apple Executive Richard Kerris Heads To Mobile App Ad Starup: Former marketing exec at Apple, Richard Kerris is heading to Get It Mobile.

Fullscreen’s Justin Danko Resigns, Takes Post At Fuisz Media; Jay Veraldi Also Out: Danko was previously in charge of brand strategy for Fullsreen East Coast and will be taking on a similar rolet Fuisz Media.

HBO CTO Otto Berkes Resigns After Network Enlists MLB TO Build OTT Platform: As HBO decides to build its over-the-top streaming service with the MLB, Otto Berkes, HBO’s chief tech officer exits.

Tubular Labs Hires Marc Schraer To Lead Sales: Marc Schraer will now be Tubular’s SVP of sales and customer success.

 

If you have a submission for this weekly feature, send info to pr@ayzenberg.com or fill out our Suggest a Story form.

VIDEO: Kristian Segerstrale On Targeting Core Gamers Through Mobile

Super Evil Megacorp COO Kristian Segerstrale knows a thing or two about mobile-first marketing strategies, having presided over a number of campaigns targeting core gamers that helped transform Super Evil Megacorp into one of Apple’s favorite game developers.

We interviewed Kristian after his appearance at [a]list summit: Mobile Marketing’s The State of Entertainment Marketing panel to discuss the science of targeting core gamers through mobile.

 

How Mobile Is Fueling Global Ad Spend In 2015

eMarketer has just released their latest rankings of the top 5 ad markets in the world in 2015, showing that ad spend globally will hit $592.43 billion in 2015. That represents a 6 percent increase over 2014. The United States is still on top as far as ad dollars go, but China has ramped up considerably at the #2 spot.

eMarketer’s data breaks out what the total digital picture looks like and what part mobile plays in that as well. Worldwide, digital ad spending is expected to be $170.50 billion and of that, $64.25 billion is projected to be specific to mobile.

Just today, eMarketer released another study that by 2016, the number of smartphone users will surpass 2 billion, a considerable portion of the planet. As mobile continues it’s reach globally, becoming the almost-everyman’s platform, the ad spend is beginning to move in-step.

“Mobile advertising is the key driver of growth around the world, and advertisers will spend $64.25 billion worldwide on mobile in 2015, an increase of nearly 60 percent over 2014. That figure will reach $158.55 billion by 2018, when mobile ads will account for 22.3 percent of all advertising spending worldwide,” says eMarketer.

CREATIVE: Top Game Trailers Of The Week: Dec. 11

Between The Game Awards and the Playstation Experience, this has been an excellent week for video game trailers. While there was more than plenty for the entire gaming community to enjoy and obsess over, here are the few that stand above the rest:

No Man’s Sky – PSX and Game Award Trailers

 

No Man’s Sky is a giant mystery… literally. We get two more looks into the ever-expanding universe ripe with planets and species (and AT-ATs ) to discover. Even the developers don’t know exactly how expansive their universe is, but these trailers sure do make me want to explore as much as I can.

Landing on an undiscovered planet for the first time and touching the ground knowing that you are the first to do so feels like an emotional moment that will be worth repeating. Sometimes the best way to brand a game’s feel is to simply show it off.

Drakes Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – PSX Gameplay Trailer

 

Fifteen minutes of Nathan Drake doing his Nathan Drake thing on the PS4. Need we say more 2.4 million youtube hits in three days on the Playstation channel alone can’t be wrong.

Oh, and watch until the very end. It’s a family affair now.

Until Dawn – The Game Awards World Premier

 

Until Dawn came screaming onto the Game Awards stage to scare the pants off of audience members and sorority sisters alike. Toting gesture controls and a masked man that gives us horrible Saw flashbacks, this is a survival-horror scenario that feels unique among the many familiar IP’s. Any piece that can make the chest seize up in anxiety is the mark of an effective trailer.

Before – The Game Awards World Premier

 

Imagine having a pristine, untouched Earth. Imagine having to hunt and forage in order to ensure yours and your family’s survival. You’re not worried about the traffic to work, rather you continue to think about how long you have until the weather threatens to freeze you solid Before looks to ask those questions and more, and offers a beautifully cell-shaded pre-historic world to explore while answering them.

Street Fighter V – PSX Reveal Trailer

 

Produced by our team here at Ayzenberg, PSX gave its fans the greatest treat of all: A Street Fighter exclusive to just PS4 and PC users. Tapping into how important and embedded the Street Fighter series is in today’s popular culture, Capcom is stirring up its fans for a fifth round while showing a little bit of next gen gameplay. We’re ready to Hadoken all the way until its launch.

What were your favorite trailers from The Game Awards and the Playstation Experience Leave them in the comments below!