Facebook Makes a Play, YouTube Announcements Circle on Red, Verizon Digital Network Steps Up + more
The 8th annual VidCon wrapped this past weekend with over double its attendance from the prior year and typical fanfare around the newest class of creators. While attendance from the usual suspects like YouTube, Facebook, AwesomenessTV, Fullscreen, Musically, Snapchat etc. was strong, the seniority of those in attendance waned in favor of Cannes Lions in France. Still, news announced emerging from VidCon was in abundance from brand activations by the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts, to influencer hot-list reports, and big product news.
Cutting through the clutter, here are the 5 headlines and takeaways worth knowing:
- Verizon Signs Multi-Year Deal with Warner Brothers — For the first time, Marni Walden, who is overseeing the Yahoo deal for Verizon, spoke about the power of Verizon Digital Networks, and the future of mobile innovation especially in video, under Verizon’s efforts. Among those efforts is go90 which announced a multi-year deal with Warner Brothers for programming from the various WB-owned digital channels — Machinima, Stage13, and Blue Ribbon. The deal marks a first multi-year deal to be announced under Kirkbride’s almost-one-year tenure at the company.
2. YouTube Announces New Products, Focus on YouTube Red Originals
YouTube’s announcement at VidCon was by far the most substantive of all the news. A new VR product for immersive video was announced alongside a handful of other product enhancements for the streaming video platform. But most significant was Susan Wojcicki’s continued message around the importance of originals. They also announced a new YouTube Studio in beta for creators in an effort to further empower creators with the editing and publishing tools needed to elevate the quality of content uploaded to the platform.
3. AT&T’s Fullscreen and Verizon’s AwesomenessTV are Still Dominant. We’ve only begun to see how the investments AT&T and Verizon have made in digital video businesses play out but of those acquired (Maker Studios, AwesomenessTV, Fullscreen, StyleHaul, etc), few continue to scale and bloom and most have fallen into the shadows. But at VidCon, Fullscreen (owned by AT&T) and Awesomeness (partially owned by Verizon) had flashy activations — Awesomeness with a ferris wheel at the front of the convention center and Fullscreen with a 2-story build on the show floor.
4. Facebook Had A Presence but Missed the Mark on Relevant News. Facebook stepped up its presence at the conference this year as a main competitor to YouTube but rolled out news that was more hyped than it was meaningful. Echoed at two sessions on the future of video, Facebook discussed its new Creator App, that many hoped would be coupled with a better rev share announcement, but boasted new creator-to-fan engagement and interaction tools. Facebook was active on tapping creators for its live streaming product as well as first-window or second window streaming deals with upfront guarantees for videos created by social-video-stars. YouTube still one-upped the game with the announcement of the YouTube Studio Beta product for creators. So, the world is watching for Facebook to make its big move in video and original series, but unfortunately, that piece was missing from Facebook’s VidCon presence.
5. VidCon is still relevant, but decreasingly important for Senior-level execs. This one is more anecdotal than a firmly announced piece of news. But from conversations and qualitative assessment of the attendance, it seems VidCon is becoming less relevant for senior executives and less relevant for high quality takeaways for the executives in attendance. Judging by the level of fluffy news announced and redundant topics, it’s hard to land on a hard ROI for executives traveling to Anaheim to attend.
Various executives who did attend echoed sentiments similar to those about Newfronts, saying its worth it to go for one day, for the big events (i.e. Hulu, YouTube, Facebook), just to see people. With the age of the influencer cooling down, YouTube, Facebook, Snap have begun de-classifying the value of the “creator” and have shifted greater focus on programming than UGC video and video blogging. One is left to wonder how VidCon retains relevance in coming years if that trend takes hold.