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Adweek : Television


Randi Zuckerberg Hopes to Battle Inequality in Silicon Valley With Her New Kids Show

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:33:20 +0000


"I've spent a decade in Silicon Valley," said Randi Zuckerberg. "Innovation is everywhere. It's supposed to be the center of forward thinking. [So] why can I count the number of women executives on one hand? Or people of color?"

At Thursday's premiere event for Zuckerberg's new television show Dot, based on her children's book of the same name, she discussed everything from inequality in the industry to the right way for kids to use new technology.

Press were invited to bring their children to the event. As a result, there were milkshakes dripping and mini burgers in hand as Zuckerberg streamed an episode of the show. Attendees could also don wigs for a GIF photobooth, or pose for a snap on the pink carpet. Coloring books, and tablets loaded with coloring book technology, were also provided for the kids to play with.

Dot, in the book and now as a TV character, is a tech-savvy young girl. She taps and types, shares and swipes, and carries her tablet everywhere. She's the perfect way to help parents teach their kids about the technology surrounding them today.

"Dot and her group of friends don't look like your typical cast of characters," Zuckerberg said. "I wanted them to reflect all levels of diversity." 

"I loved working in Silicon Valley, but at the same time I hated the fact that there were no women in the room," she said. "We need to start challenging people on the notion of what an entrepreneur in America looks like, and it needs to happen early on."

Kids today are starting to use technology earlier and earlier in life. And that, Zuckerberg thinks, can create some fear or anxiety for parents.

"No matter what their level of expertise in their job, every parent is an amateur at parenting when they first start," said Zuckerberg. "Especially with this very digital group."

Dot will air at 11 a.m. ET Saturdays on Sprout, a network just for children which launched in 2005 and is now owned by NBCUniversal. Zuckerberg considers it another type of startup.

"It felt like we came together at a really critical moment for both of us," she said. "I needed Sprout as much as they needed me. I knew they'd give this program the love it deserved."

Zuckerberg wants her sons, Asher and Simi, who are both under six years old, to grow up in a "different world" than what she experienced in Silicon Valley.

"Dot is about finding a balance in a high-tech world through the waters of modern childhood," said Zuckerberg.

"Dot is inquisitive," said Amy Friedman, Sprout's head of development. "We want to give kids the tools and role models that will help them show up in the world."

Sprout's motto, after all, is 'Free to grow.'

"When parents see the Dot logo or book or show, I want them to know that it's safe and appropriate," said Zuckerberg. "I'd love to see a Dot iPad, designed specifically for kids, one day. I want parents to know how technology can add to your household. It doesn't have to detract."

Media Files:

Donald Trump's Lack of Ad Spending Is Leaving a Hole In Local Media's Pocket

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:55:43 +0000

The presidential debates provided plenty of free airtime.Gif: Dianna McDougall; Sources: CNN, Shutterstock The presidential election has been momentous and memorable: the first woman nominee of a major party, a businessman/reality show candidate, leaked emails, bigly, Ken Bone and Billy Bush. But local media will remember the 2016 race for what it didn't provide: significant ad revenue. Media forecasting firm Magna originally projected this year's political ad spend to be 15 percent above 2012, which would have set a new record. But current forecasts put the ad buy in line with the 2012 campaign. "[Donald Trump] is not nearly spending what Mitt Romney or John McCain's campaigns did eight years ago," said Mark Fratrik, svp and chief economist for BIA Kelsey. "That disappointed the outlooks of local media companies." Local TV ad sales were underwhelming despite a 10 percent increase this year. "Good, but it fell below our anticipations," added Vincent Letang, evp of global market intelligence for Magna. Around $2.8 billion was booked in local political TV ad sales this year, up 3 percent from 2012 dollars. It's particularly not impressive because a total of $20 billion was spent on local TV ads overall, excluding political ads. "When Trump was a candidate in the primaries, he spent very little," said Letang. "We thought once he got the nomination and gained more access to GOP fundraising, he'd spend closer to what Romney did during his general election [of 2012]. That didn't happen." But it's not just Trump's underwhelming spend that surprises analysts. "We all thought Virginia would continue to be a battleground state for the campaigns. But it just isn't. [Hillary] Clinton has been spending more in Arizona, which comes as a surprise," Letang said. Close Senate and governor races have helped fill the political ad gap created by the presidential campaigns. For example: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence created an empty seat when he joined Trump on the Republican ticket for president. Fratrik similarly noted the close senatorial and gubernatorial races in Florida, traditionally a battleground state as well. "The presidential race is only about a third of the total political spending in an election cycle," said Letang. "The bulk of spending is on congressional, gubernatorial and local ballots." The presidential campaigns also took some of that TV money and moved it to digital which offers a "low cost" option for marketers, according to Fratrik. According to the forecast report from Magna released in earlier this month, "digital advertising sales will equal TV ad dollars for the first time, with both generating $68 billion, a market share of 38.5 percent." Earlier this year, an IAB report found that digital media matches TV as a source of information about candidates. In fact, more than a third of registered voters claimed that digital sources would be their "most important method of getting candidate information." Engaged U.S. voters, the IAB report also stated, find digital media and TV as essentially equal in importance as primary sources of information about presidential candidates and political issues.  "Overall, it's still a strong year for political ads," said Fratrik. "Since campaigns are saving money by using digital marketing, there's plenty of money left for over-the-air television ads and local cable." "One could argue you'd spend an enormous amount of money to reach a small amount of people [through local TV ads], but they can make or break an election, especially in swing states," said Letang. [...]

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Will Feature Snapchat's First Live TV Activations

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:00:01 +0000


Even if viewers don't throw rice or shout at the screen tonight during Fox's remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, they'll have a new way to participate—via Snapchat.

For the first time ever on TV, Fox and Snapchat have created a trio of Snapcode activations that will go live during the telecast. Fox will air Snapcodes three times in bumpers between the show and the ads. Viewers can snap them to unlock exclusive filters and share with friends.

It's one of several activations from Fox and Snapchat surrounding the remake of the 1975 cult classic, which is subtitled Let's Do the Time Warp Again. As it researched the fans who continue to flock to midnight screenings of the original film and the response to the first trailer in May, Fox noted heavy millennial engagement, which it also attributes to its millennial-friendly stars, Ryan McCartan and Victoria Justice, who play Brad Majors and Janet Weiss. Laverne Cox stars as Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

"It's really about celebrating the iconic classic with custom fan engagement experiences, and both an homage and a love letter to a cult classic on a very current platform," said Angela Courtin, Fox Broadcasting evp and CMO. "It was a great audience. It was obviously a great platform to reach them, and the creativity allowed us to lean in what we love—fan participation."

(image) Fox ran Snap ads on Oct. 11 celebrating Coming Out Day. Then on Tuesday, the network launched a custom sponsored lens, which let users dress up as Frank-N-Furter, complete with makeup and the film's iconic lips.

Cox and Justice also held weekly Snapchat activations and takeovers heading up to the premiere.

Snapcode is a new Snapchat offering that began rolling out last month, offering brands a new way to disseminate filters. Any brand that buys a national filter also can get a Snapcode that unlocks that filter. Tonight's Rocky Horror telecast will be the first time Snapcodes have been utilized during a TV program.

The Snapchat activations "go back to how fans experience the original classic," said Courtin. "You would go to the theater, and you'd throw the rice. You'd toss the toilet paper, you'd [do the] call and response. What better way to do that than in the show, being able to have fans unlocking ways to participate digitally and socially by unlocking a filter, being able to take a photograph and share that? That is what participation looks like in today's social language."

Networks have increasingly been partnering with Snapchat as a way to expand their reach and engagement with Snapchat's 150 million users. The platform reaches 41 percent on average of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. each day, according to Nielsen.

Fox's social media-centric marketing campaign for Rocky Horror also included a month of "midnight streamings," which its stars teased on various social platforms, of new footage and clips on Fox Now and Hulu every Thursday.

Fox is already planning on using Snapcodes on TV again.

"We will look at the adoption on this, but I think that we should absolutely be exploring this for our shows," said Courtin, who suggested that Snapcodes could be used to unlock content during the second half of Empire's season, as well as Fox's upcoming 24 reboot, 24: Legacy, which launches after the Super Bowl.

"With success, I can see this being a part of our arsenal," Courtin said.

Media Files:

New YouTube Red Series Shows Off the Weird World of Rhett and Link

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 21:26:53 +0000

In a world where an evil co-ex-girlfriend, an "infomercial queen," has taken over a super popular YouTube channel in order to sell her products, only one team can stop her (because they kinda have to): Rhett and Link. This comedy duo, who've been best friends since they met in first grade, have teamed up with YouTube Red to create a brand-new scripted series, a first for the pair. YouTube Red is an ad-free, subscription-based platform that provides viewers with exclusive content.  In Buddy System, an eight-episode series exclusively available on YouTube Red, Rhett and Link have to take back control of their internet empire and go through many fun misadventures, all to stop their mutual ex-girlfriend from leaking a huge secret. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="367" src="" width="652"> "We wanted to work with YouTube because it made the most sense based on where our audience is," said Rhett McLaughlin. "We thought it'd be fun to play ourselves, with an internet show, and throw in the same kind of ridiculous ideas and songs our fans know from us already." "Buddy System takes a lot of what worked for us in the past into a new realm and into a scripted musical world," said Link Neal. "Our audience pretty much peaks in the 18 to 24 range," said McLaughlin. "Most people assume that because our show is on YouTube, then it's most popular with kids. Teenagers are typically our most vocal fan group, and they comment the most, but our core audience are college kids who love weird comedy." Rhett and Link's particular type of weird comedy has evolved over the years, and most recently they've begun experimenting with new types of videos on different platforms. Earlier this month, they uploaded a kind of parody video on how to create a "Birthday Bean Cake." allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="652" scrolling="no" src="" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="652"> In a style that feels similar to other instructional food videos online, a disembodied set of hands teaches viewers how to smash three kinds of frozen beans together. And despite the use of Goya beans, it's not a piece of branded content. At first glance, it might seem like a tongue-in-cheek way to create something with a brand partner, but it really just came out of McLaughlin's love of beans. "It was uploaded on my birthday, and everyone knows I love beans," said McLaughlin. "Our hardworking team over at Mythical Entertainment came up with the idea when thinking on other ways to reach people through social media," said Neal. "They just combined Rhett's love of beans with what works on Facebook." "You're not sure if it's serious, when it first starts out," said McLaughlin. "But then the end is just a mess of beans on a plate. We've done other parody-type videos before, but I think this one did so well because people believed it. And people like beans!" "It wasn't sponsored by the bean," Neal said, "but we're happy to take their money after the fact. We'll take it posthaste ... or post-taste!" These two creators, who've worked together for so many years, really want to show their fans all the different sides of what they can do. "Both with Buddy System and this bean video, you get to see how we want to create different things. We want to be experimenting and exploring new ideas," explained Neal. "We can make those bite-sized shareable videos, or we can make a story you can immerse yourself in over eight weeks." "We thought about the content we connect with the most, and it's TV shows [...]

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You Can Buy Everything You See on Lifetime & Wayfair’s New TV Series

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:00:02 +0000

A+E Networks this weekend is rolling out its most ambitious branded content push yet, a new Lifetime lifestyle/home improvement series co-produced by Wayfair in which every item that appears on the program will be available for purchase on Wayfair's site. The Way Home, which A+E is calling the first "fully-shoppable" TV series, premieres Saturday at 11 a.m. on Lifetime. Its two hosts, interior designer Evette Rios and lifestyle expert Megan Colarossi, will discuss how to save time and money during home renovations, with segments focusing on do-it-yourself tips, renovations, design and home makeovers. Each episode has a different theme, including fall, Black Friday, Christmas and organization. After each of the 10 weekly episodes premieres, viewers can go to, the online home goods merchant, for The Way Home-themed sales events spotlighting the products featured on the show. "There's been a huge explosion of interest in interior design websites and people wanting to see inside homes, and this plays into that in a big, approachable way," said A+E Networks executive producer Steve Ascher of The Way Home. "We didn't want this to be solely, hey, here's a product, and you should buy this. It was all about context and how this can simplify your life." Audiences will be able to buy all of the items that appear on The Way Home. "Everything, from the smallest pieces on set to pieces you see in a makeover in a taped package, is on sale at Wayfair," Ascher said. After each segment, the hosts will direct viewers to, and the show will have "snipes" and bugs on the bottom third of the screen to drive viewers to the site. While A+E Networks has been active in creating branded content, the company had been looking for an opportunity to make a bigger splash with a brand. "It was always our hope to be able to find a partner that wanted to experiment and co-create together," said Amy Baker, evp of ad sales at A+E Networks. She found that in Nancy Go, Wayfair's vp of brand marketing, and pitched her the idea when the pair got lost on their way to a Sundance Film Festival event in January. She was on board, as was A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc, whom they saw at a dinner that night. "This show is launching nine months after the idea was conceived," Go said. "This pace is pretty unbelievable." The fall premiere allows Wayfair to capitalize on the holiday shopping season. "It's important for us as a retailer, but home furnishings are purchased all through the year. We did have a very strong Q4 retail plan, and supporting that with this show was awesome," she said. The Way Home will have regular ad pods with traditional 30-second spots, but Wayfair will not be purchasing advertising during the show. Episodes will repeat on Lifetime throughout the week and be available on Wayfair's site (split into smaller segments), (where they will be available to all visitors, not just authenticated Lifetime subscribers), and Lifetime VOD. A+E Networks and Wayfair are also teaming up with Samba TV, which will provide cross-platform measurement and report how effectively on-air marketing drives viewers to The Way Home, and how the show drives engagement with Wayfair's website. Both companies will use those insights to shape their marketing and merchandising strategies around the show. "Some of the insights that we glean will be used to help us identify audience overlap so we can say, if we were to air a promo in FYI, on this particular series on A&E, it would likely drive purchasing viewers to our show. And those promos are scheduled pretty close to real time, so there is flexibility there," said Lee Boykoff, svp of digital analytics and CRM at A+E Networks. Lifetime will also use Samba and Wayfair's data to determine which program repeat[...]

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Chris Matthews on What The West Wing, House of Cards and Veep Get Right About Politics

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 23:16:52 +0000

Specs Age 70 Claim to fame Host of MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews (weeknights at 7 p.m.) Base Washington, D.C. Twitter @HardballChris Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning? Chris Matthews: History. I start the day knowing most of what's happened in politics since World War II, so it's always there as a point of comparison. Everything is a mash-up of past and present in my brain. For instance, [Alicia Machado] is very much a case of how you treat the little people if you're a big shot, and this is what happened with [Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey] back in '48 when he yelled at some train conductor and said he ought to be fired because he accidentally jolted the train, and that really hurt Dewey. These things happen in patterns. Where do you get your news? I start my day very traditionally. I go out in the driveway and pick up the New York Post, The New York Times, sometimes The Wall Street Journal. I look at the front page, then I might check the Philly scores, then I'll read the op-eds, then I'll go back and go through the political section. I like Maureen Dowd [at The New York Times] and Peggy Noonan at the Journal. The international overnight and Playbook come in my email [in the morning]. And there is a half-inch pile of clips that I get in the afternoon to read. What TV shows do you watch? I never missed an episode of Downton Abbey or House of Cards. I think I've seen all of Veep. I like Madam Secretary. I tried to watch The Affair for a while, but I couldn't watch that anymore. It was too depressing. I tried to watch Ray Donovan, but that was depressing, too. But I'm really a movie buff. I've had a philosophy about feature films all my life, basically, that feature films are always about the present, even if it's a period piece or historical drama. If you want to understand our culture, go to the movies. In fact, I love watching old movies because I can tell from the movie what was going on that year. Have you seen any movies recently that do a good job of showing the current political climate? I saw Hell or High Water, which is getting back to that antihero thing from the '60s where the good guys are the outlaws, which is fascinating. It's sort of about the current times, too, because the bad guys are the banks and somehow they're responsible for everything bad. The movie never connects it up very well, but that's the idea. You get the spirit of the Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders point of view. I think the millennials will like that film. And as far as political TV shows, which ones do you think really get it right? Well, there are different aspects. The West Wing captured the total loyalty and devotion of the White House staff to the president. House of Cards is correct in one regard, that people who are elected to the House of Representatives, for example, really do try to project years, even decades ahead to where they're going to be in the pecking order and how long it will take them to get to a position of real authority. I imagine Veep is accurate in the sense that the vice president is often overlooked by the president's people in every administration. The vice president is totally under the president's control; it's not really a partnership. That's pretty interesting. This story first appeared in the October 17, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe. [...]

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Even as TV Creators Come Around on Integrations, Buyers Are Starting to Look Elsewhere

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 23:02:04 +0000

After years of treating "integration" as a dirty word, the people behind many of TV's biggest shows have changed their tune and are embracing them as something beneficial to their shows, rather than a punishment that must be endured. "We like having that extra money that allows us to do some scenes, or buy music, we otherwise wouldn't be able to," said Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan. "In some cases, it actually helps the scene. It sounds more natural to say, 'Who wants to go to Target with me?' than, 'Who wants to go to the department store with me?'" Yet in a surprising role reversal, as TV's showrunners (including a dozen that spoke with Adweek) are more receptive than ever to integrations, buyers and brands no longer have the same enthusiasm for them. "It used to be the showcase in a buy, to say we brought in integration," said Neil Vendetti, president of investment at Zenith. "Now we're talking about integrations with clients a bit less." That sentiment is reflected in new data from Nielsen TV Brand Effect, which indicates that the number of integrations in original, nonsports prime-time programming on the five broadcast networks has fallen each year, from 4,701 in the 2013-14 season to 4,538 in the 2015-16 season. That's not to say that TV integrations aren't still plentiful, or high profile. In last season's most successful partnership, Empire featured a multi-episode arc in which rising star Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) was wooed by Pepsi to endorse the soda. As the cast sat down to watch the ad, Empire cut to commercial where the actual spot played. "That was pure kismet because we broke a story in the [writers] room where we said, Jamal is going to get a major endorsement, and it's going to be a threat to [his father] Lucious because it means he's going to be a bigger star," said Empire showrunner Ilene Chaiken. "Then I got a call from the network, saying, 'We have this opportunity with Pepsi,' and it was exactly the story we were telling." But the mindset of many advertisers is much different from when integrations were the shiny new toy. "Nine or 10 years ago, there was a big migration toward product placement. Then we moved away from it because it became too overt and almost too generic," said Maureen Bosetti, chief investment officer at Initiative. Back then, "the demand for integrations was greater than the supply," said Melissa Fallon, svp of digital, film and TV at The Marketing Arm. "The networks were scrambling to find solutions for the declining impressions for advertising. Now there's more solutions." Those include branded content, which "has filled in the gap" as some have backed away from integrations, said Vendetti. In-house branded content studios have popped up at several media companies, including NBCUniversal, Viacom and Turner. Branded content requires less hoops for brands to jump through than integrations, which have to be incorporated into a storyline; unlike integrations, the finished spot can be featured on the brand's channels as well. Meanwhile, other brands that would like to be integrated into shows aren't allowed at the table. "Emerging brands like Lyft are looking for that increased awareness, affinity and brand identification, but they don't meet the media buy threshold, so they don't even get to play," said Fallon. "It's not that the producers aren't interested in those brands; it's that the networks are shutting them down." Until that changes, the showrunners, tasked with producing movie-quality episodes each week on a TV budget, said they're happy to take advantage of any opportunities to organically work a brand into their series. "I know that has been an issue in t[...]

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NBCUniversal Names Dan Lovinger as the New Sports Ad Sales Chief

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 16:18:00 +0000


The NBC Sports Group has filled its ad sales chief role with Dan Lovinger after Seth Winter stepped down last month.

Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal's chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, announced Lovinger's new position today as the evp for the NBCUniversal Sports Sales Group in a memo to employees, along with several other changes to her ad sales team.

Lovinger, who was previously evp for NBCUniversal's entertainment ad sales group, will oversee NBCUniversal Sport's ad sales, including its trio of major 2018 events: the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and the World Cup. "He was the perfect fit to head up the sports group," said Yaccarino. "He has been doing such a terrific job heading up the broadcast network, USA and Syfy, it really made a lot of sense to add to his portfolio of his experience."

He's replacing Winter, who announced last month he was stepping down, but would stay on as an advisor through 2018. A source said at the time that Winter's departure had nothing to do with the Summer Olympics missed guarantees.

Mark Marshall (previously svp for portfolio ad sales) will move from Chicago to New York to take over Lovinger's role as head of entertainment sales group, overseeing NBC Entertainment, USA and Syfy.

Yaccarino has created a new role—evp of portfolio sales and strategy—and put Mike Rosen in that position. Rosen (formerly evp ad sales for the news and Hispanic groups) will lead NBCUniversal's portal upfront strategy with clients and agencies, oversee the company's regional offices and head up the Audience Studio product sales teams.

"We really needed to create a position that is an outward facing, strategic executive that bridges the gap between all of our agency partners and our client partners. Deals just don't get transacted at the agencies anymore," said Yaccarino. "With our continued investment and all our data and analytics products, he's also going to be heading that sales team, which really accelerates our conversations direct all the time, which made sense to obviously put all the regions under Mike too. So it's really a byproduct of the transformation of the marketplace. And you just can't have vertical leads and a client partnership team, you need the connective tissue that brings all of that together."

Two execs will assume Rosen's former duties: Mark Miller has been promoted to lead sales for the news group, while Laura Molen (currently evp for lifestyle ad sales) will add the Telemundo sales group to her portfolio.

This is Yaccarino's biggest change to her organization since she merged the linear and digital ad sales teams last November.

Today's moves are "positioning us to be even more nimble and more directly aligned with clients," said Yaccarino.

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This Is Us Had the Most Facebook and Twitter Activity of Any New Show This Fall

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 13:00:01 +0000


The premiere of This Is Us was as big of a hit on Facebook and Twitter as it was in the ratings.

The NBC drama is the top-rated new show in the 18-49 demo this fall and was the first freshman series to receive a full-season order. It also topped all new fall series in Facebook and Twitter interactions on opening night, according to Nielsen social content ratings released this morning.

The Nielsen data, which looked at social media interactions around new shows that premiered between Sept. 1 and Oct. 9, found that there were 383,000 interactions across Facebook and Twitter the night of This Is Us' premiere. The E! reality series Rob & Chyna came in second with 290,000 interactions, followed by OWN's Queen Sugar (209,000), FX's Atlanta (196,000) and ABC's Designated Survivor (130,000).


This Is Us also led the Facebook-only interactions (333,000), trailed by Queen Sugar (147,000), Rob & Chyna (120,000) and Designated Survivor (100,000). Rob & Chyna topped the Twitter interactions (170,000), followed closely by Atlanta (167,000). Lagging behind at No. 3 was Queen Sugar (62,000).

Nielsen defines interactions as both original Facebook posts or tweets about a TV program (with classifiers including the title, actors, official and unofficial hashtags and other program-related keyword combinations) and replies, retweets, shares, likes or comments to other tweets or posts. The social content ratings measure activity from three hours before the broadcast through three hours after (local time).

During the first week of the 2016-17 season, which began Sept. 19, there were 83.2 million TV-related social interactions on Facebook and Twitter, including sports, series and specials. That's an average of 11.9 million social interactions a day from 6.1 million people. (Facebook had an average of 9.9 million social interactions daily from 5.5 million people; Twitter had 2 million interactions on average per day from 639,000 people.)

Millennials interacted with TV program-related Facebook content that week (41 percent of overall interactions) almost as much as 35- to 54-year-olds did (42 percent). Adults 55 and up accounted for the remaining 17 percent. Women were responsible for 59 percent of TV activity on Facebook during that week.

Earlier this year, Nielsen added Facebook data to its Twitter social ratings, which it now calls social content ratings.

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Netflix Debuts Haters Back Off, a New Original Series From YouTube Star Miranda Sings

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 20:26:59 +0000

"Miranda thinks she's incredible," said Colleen Ballinger, the creator of Miranda Sings. "She takes pride in her singing, dancing, acting, modeling ... all of which she's not good at!" Nine years ago, when YouTube was essentially still a toddler, the character of Miranda Sings was born. Back then, Ballinger was studying vocal performance and had started to observe the girls around her. "I saw all these mean, snooty girls in my classes," she said, "so Miranda is really based on those girls. She was a way for me to poke fun at them." "She's very confident in her lack of talent," said Ballinger. Miranda, whose signature look is a red lip and a bad attitude, started as a much more tame version than what you see today. "When the first videos came out and started to become viral, I started getting hate comments," she explained. "People would write, 'You suck,' 'You're ugly,' 'You can't sing.' I became fascinated that people were so bored, they'd write something so mean about someone who wasn't even real." If they didn't like her singing, she'd sing worse. If they didn't like her style, she dressed worse. Ballinger really wanted to exaggerate Miranda's worst qualities so they would comment even more. She wanted to "engage with the haters." Miranda Sings currently has more than 7 million subscribers on YouTube. And Ballinger is now hoping they'll follow her to Netflix for the first season of Haters Back Off, which debuts today on the streaming service.  Ballinger and her brother, Christopher, are co-writers in everything she does. Once Miranda's videos started going viral online, the Ballingers developed the characters that inhabit her world. Angela Kinsey, who played Angela Martin on NBC's The Office, plays Miranda's mother in Haters Back Off and Steve Little, from comedies like Eastbound & Down on HBO, plays Miranda's fame-chasing uncle. "We've only been able to show a little bit of Miranda at a time online," she said. "Now we get to show why she is the way she is. I'm hoping the audience, or fans, will connect with her on a deeper level. We've never seen her show any vulnerability or true emotions before! That's huge for this character." Who are those millions of fans who've loved Miranda for all these years? Mostly, probably, teenage girls who "just want to embrace their 'weird.'" "There's so much pressure to look perfect from places like Instagram where we worry about how many likes we get. Miranda is so confident in her weirdness, that's why she's so inspiring. She's not the 'pretty girl' or the 'talented girl.'" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="367" src="" width="652"> That's why she's been able to reach so many fans throughout the years, and probably why Netflix wanted to attach itself to this project, which Ballinger and her brother started pitching two years ago. "Netflix is really excited about this character's story and the vision we bring to it," she said. Ballinger is hoping the new series will help her expand the message of Miranda, that you don't need to have so much beauty or skil in order to be confident. But expanding Miranda out into the world can be a challenge, especially since "90 percent of my time is spent alone, either filming, editing or writing," explained Ballinger. Luckily, fans have supported her throughout her many fun "collabs" (that's YouTube speak for "collaborations with fellow YouTubers" where folks usually make a video or two f[...]

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