Popbase helps YouTube stars build closer relationships with their fans

Entertainment has changed. New platforms led by YouTube have emerged to change the dynamic of broadcast media — once dominated by the rigid programming of TV — while the internet has enabled new media stars to engage with their audiences in new, high-touch ways. Developments like live streaming, social media and more have made the stars of today more relatable and more easily reachable than those of yesteryear. The easiest example to grasp is arguably the Kardashian family. They dominate the media, have accrued millions of fans on social networks and have branched into retail, fashion, production and more. Their relationship with fans is 24/7 and, regardless of how you feel about the family, their popularity is a clear indicator of this new always-on connection between public figures and their fans. A new startup is seizing on an opportunity to help up-and-coming online entertainers take a leaf out of that
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Google will struggle if it re-enters China, says its former country head

The odds are stacked against Google if the reports are true and the company is trying to bring its services back to China, according to the former head of Google China. News reports last month uncovered details of internal plans to introduce a search product and a news app in China, moves that would mark a re-entry to the consumer market which Google left in 2010. The plans, which follow a noticeable increase in activity in China from Google, were widely criticized by activists and also raised concern internally from Google employees. Kaifu Lee left the search giant nine years following a four-year stint, and today he’s best-known as one of the world’s leading thinkers on AI and the founding partner of Chinese VC Sinovation Ventures. Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco this week, he shared his belief that China’s tech ecosystem is rapidly catching the U.S. on
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EU to move ahead with cultural quotas for streaming services

The European Union is set to move ahead with a plan to enforce pan-European quotas on streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix to support production of locally produced film and video content. Roberto Viola, the European Commission’s directorate general of communication, networks, content and technology told Variety that the new rules are on track to be approved in December. “We just need the final vote, but it’s a mere formality,” he said in an interview at the Venice Film Festival. The proposals will require that streaming services give over at least 30% of their on-demand catalogues to original productions made in each EU country where a service is provided (individual EU Member States could choose to set the content bar even higher, at 40%). Streaming services will also have to ensure visibility and prominence for local content — so no burying the ‘European third’ in a dingy corner of the
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Netflix snags former Disney exec Christie Fleischer to lead its consumer products team

Netflix is doubling down on its merchandising efforts with its hiring of former Disney exec Christie Fleischer to head its global Consumer Products team. Previously the head of merchandise for parks, experiences and consumer products at Disney, Fleischer will now lead a team at Netflix focused on overseeing retail and licensee partnerships, publishing, interactive games, merchandising and experiential events, the company says. This role will include developing consumer products across all categories for Netflix original series and films. Merchandise is an area Netflix has dabbled in before – like those “Stranger Things” tees at Target and other items at Hot Topic, for example  – but not at scale. However, the company today has a number of original series and films where merchandising and other products make sense. This includes not only more mainstream fare like “Stranger Things,” but also originals aimed at kids where toys and games could be
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Wikimedia warns EU copyright reform threatens the ‘vibrant free web’

The Wikimedia Foundation has sounded a stark warning against a copyright reform proposal in Europe that’s due to be voted on by the European Parliament next week. (With the mild irony that it’s done so with a blog post on the commercial Medium platform.)

In the post, also emailed to TechCrunch, María Sefidari Huici, chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, writes: “Next week, the European Parliament will decide how information online is shared in a vote that will significantly affect how we interact in our increasingly connected, digital world. We are in the last few moments of what could be our last opportunity to define what the Internet looks like in the future.

“The next wave of proposed rules under consideration by the European Parliament will either permit more innovation and growth, or stifle the vibrant free web that has allowed creativity, innovation, and collaboration to thrive. This is

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Myanmar jails Reuters reporters who uncovered military atrocity

Reporting the news isn’t illegal, unless you’re in Myanmar. The Southeast Asian country this week sentenced two reporters from Reuters to seven years in jail in response to an investigative report that uncovered atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims by the army. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuters staffers, have been in custody since December. They were arrested for possession of official government documents which had been given to them by a member of the police force as part of the investigation. That puts them in violation of the colonial-time Official Secrets Act which bars civilians from accessing government information. The landmark decision has been derided worldwide. Critics argue that the Reuters reporters are being made an example of because they surfaced the untold story of an atrocity that involved the military, which controlled Myanmar for nearly 50 years until general elections were introduced in 2015. The ethnic tension for
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UK media giants call for independent oversight of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter

The UK’s leading broadcasters and ISPs have called for the government to introduce independent regulatory oversight of social media content. The group of media and broadband operators in the tightly regulated industries spans both the state-funded and commercial sector — with the letter to the Sunday Telegraph being inked with signatures from the leaders of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, BT and TalkTalk. They argue there’s an “urgent” need for independent oversight of social media, and counter suggestions that such a move would amount to censorship by pointing out that tech companies are already making choices about what to allow (or not) on their platforms. They are argue independent oversight is necessary to ensure “accountability and transparency” over those decisions, writing: “There is an urgent need for independent scrutiny of the decisions taken, and greater transparency. This is not about censoring the internet, it is about making the most popular
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Original Content podcast: Going on a true crime spree with Netflix’s ‘Evil Genius’

“Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist” is a tough title to live up to, but the Netflix docuseries pulls it off. That’s because the story that “Evil Genius” retells is full of impossible-seeming details — it starts out with a botched bank robbery committed by a man with a bomb attached to his neck and gets stranger from there. In the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we talk about our reactions to the show — it tells an unforgettable story, but might have benefited from tighter editing. We also mull over the growing genre of true crime miniseries, covering “The Staircase,” plus fictionalized depictions of real-world events like “Mindhunter” and “Manhunt: Unabomber.” And we go over some recent streaming headlines, including Hulu’s rumored revival of “Veronica Mars” and Netflix picking up the U.S. rights to “The Great British Baking Show”.
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The Village Voice will no longer publish new stories

The Village Voice is dead — at least, as a functioning journalistic organization. Starting today, the legendary alternative newspaper will no longer publish new stories. Gothamist reports that at a staff meeting, owner Peter Barbey said that about half the team would be laid off, while the other half would remain on-board for now to “wind things down” and work on creating a digital Voice archive. Barbey acquired the Voice in 2015 and took the paper online-only last year. In a statement released today, he said:
In recent years, the Voice has been subject to the increasingly harsh economic realities facing those creating journalism and written media. Like many others in publishing, we were continually optimistic that relief was around the next corner. Where stability for our business is, we do not know yet. The only thing that is clear now is that we have not reached that destination. The
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Chat app Line hopes its own crypto token can solve its user growth problem

Line, the Japanese messaging app firm that’s best known for its cutesy characters and stickers, is pushing deeper into crypto after it launched its own token to help grow its stagnant user base. Line went public two years ago with 218 million monthly active users, but it hasn’t been able to kick on. The company no longer gives out its worldwide user number, but the number of active users in its four biggest markets has fallen from 169 million in Q2 2017 to 164 million in its recent Q2 2018 period. Link — Line’s token — isn’t being minted through an ICO, instead, it’ll be given out to Line users as an incentive for using certain services. Line hasn’t said exactly how it can be earned yet, although it is likely that it’ll be tied to specific activities to promote engagement.

Line plans to use Link to incentive user activity on its messaging

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YouTube launches a suite of fundraising tools

YouTube today announced a suite of new features designed to offer creators and their fans new ways to contribute to charitable causes. This includes beta versions of new fundraising and campaign matching tools, as well as a variation of YouTube’s Super Chat service, called “Super Chat for Good.” Explains the company, YouTube creators have already been using its video platform to raise awareness about causes they care about, and bring their communities together. The launch of YouTube Giving, as this combined toolset is called, will now allow them to do more by making it easier for fans to donate to over 1 million nonprofits. With Fundraisers, YouTube creators and qualifying U.S. nonprofits (registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits) will be able to create fundraising campaigns that are embedded next to their YouTube videos. Directly beneath the video, viewers will see a “Donate” button that will allow them contribute to the
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Netflix releases the trailer for Orson Welles’ final film

“The Other Side of the Wind” has had a long, torturous path to completion. In a way, it’s one of the final chapters in the longer saga of Orson Welles — who, after making “Citizen Kane” (often cited as the greatest film of all time) and “The Magnificent Ambersons,” spent most of the ensuing decades in Europe, piecing together the funding for projects like “Chimes at Midnight.” He shot “The Other Side of the Wind” throughout the 1970s and even managed to edit part of the film before running out of funding. Since his death in 1985, Peter Bogdanovich and other Welles supporters have tried to complete the film, but they’ve been stymied by additional legal and financial issues. Until recently, that is, when Netflix stepped in to fund the work. The streaming giant’s involvement did cause some additional issues, namely its absence from the Cannes Film Festival (
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The Atlantic poaches Alex Hardiman from Facebook to lead product

The Atlantic has hired Facebook’s Alex Hardiman to head up its business and product efforts. She’ll join in the fall from Facebook, where she’s been serving as the social media giant’s head of news products. In her new role, Hardiman will focus on digital consumer revenue, audience experience and product strategy, leading The Atlantic’s product, engineering, data and growth teams. I’ve always been a news person,” Hardiman said in a Facebook post. “It’s my passion during the workday and my guilty pleasure on nights and weekends. It’s why I spent a decade at The Times before coming to Facebook to help tackle some of the company’s formidable news challenges, and it’s why I’m now joining The Atlantic at a unique moment in its history.” Hardiman joined Facebook in 2016, just as criticism against the platform for its role in spreading “fake news” began to spread like wildfire. She
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Playstation Vue expands its lineup with 200 more local channels

Sony’s Playstation Vue, the over-the-top TV streaming service that’s now up against a host of new competitors including Hulu and YouTube TV, is expanding its lineup to include more local stations. While the service had already offered some limited access to locals in select markets, this expansion brings 200 more stations across the U.S. to its service, including ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC stations. In total, there are now more than 450 local stations available, the company says. (A list of the additions is available here.) The news is notable because of how far behind Playstation Vue has slid in terms of subscribers, since the launch of newcomers to the market. And many of these newcomers have been touting their access to locals as one of their benefits. Playstation Vue, on the other hand, may have gained more locals this week, but it also recently lost all
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Vernā Myers joins Netflix in new VP role focused on inclusion

Netflix has hired Vernā Myers in the newly-created role of vice president, inclusion strategy. Myers has spent the past two decades at the head of The Vernā Myers Company, where she consulted on issues around diversity and inclusion. She’s also written and spoken broadly on those topics. In the announcement, Netflix notes that it’s already worked with Myers as a consultant, and that her new job will be to “devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide.” “I have been a longtime fan of the inclusive and diverse programming and talent at Netflix, and then I got a chance to meet the people behind the screen,” Myers said in a statement. “I was so impressed by their mission, their excellence, and decision to take their inclusion and diversity efforts to a higher level. I am so excited
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Sinemia takes aim at MoviePass again, with new $9.99 plan

Sinemia continues its campaign to take advantage of MoviePass’ high-profile struggles and win over the better-known movie ticket subscription service’s customers. Today, it announced a new plan priced at $9.99 per month. MoviePass, after all, recently announced that it would be keeping its monthly subscription price at $9.95, but limiting subscribers to three movies per month (with discounts on additional tickets). The new Sinemia tier also includes three tickets each month, but it has the additional benefit of allowing subscribers to buy tickets for any 2D, non-IMAX screen, and to buy those tickets in advance. MoviePass, in contrast, is rotating the available movies each day, and it requires subscribers to buy their tickets at the theater, on the same day as the screening. Just a couple weeks ago, Sinemia announced a refer-a-friend program that rewards subscribers who convince their friends to leave other subscription services. The company
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Facebook Watch is launching worldwide

Facebook Watch, the social network’s home to original video content and answer to YouTube, is now becoming available worldwide. The Watch tab had first launched last August, only in the U.S., and now touts over 50 million monthly viewers who watch at least a minute of video within Watch. Since the beginning of the year, total time spent viewing videos in Watch is up by 14x, says Facebook. The company has continued to add more social features to Watch over the past year, including participatory viewing experiences like Watch Parties, Premiers, and those with audience involvement, like an HQ Trivia competitor, Confetti, built on the new gameshow platform. Watch also offers basic tools for discovery, saving videos for later viewing, and lets users customize a feed of videos from Facebook Pages they follow. Along with international availability, Facebook is introducing “Ad Breaks” to more publishers. These can
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Spotify expands its $4.99 per month student bundle with Hulu to include Showtime

Spotify today is announcing a new way for students to access its Premium service, along with Hulu and Showtime, for a discounted price of $4.99 per month for all three. The new deal is an expansion of the existing Hulu and Spotify bundle for students, which launched around a year ago at the same price. Now those existing subscribers as well as new ones will be able to stream from all three services when they sign up. The new bundle consists of Spotify Premium for Students, Hulu with Limited Commercials, and Showtime . Students will need to be attending a Title IV accredited institution in the U.S. to qualify for the discounted pricing. When Spotify teamed up with Hulu back in September 2017, it was the first time it had ever partnered with a streaming video service on a bundle deal. The deal had arrived just as Spotify’s own
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Pandora introduces capabilities for shorter, more personalized ads

Pandora announced three new capabilities for advertisers today — the ability to dynamically assemble different audio ads for different listeners, the ability to sequentially target ads so that they fit together into a larger strategy and shorter ad formats that range from four to 10 seconds in length. Claire Fanning, Pandora’s vice president of ad strategy, told me via email that the company is announcing these capabilities at the same time because “they work together in really powerful ways.” For example, she also sent along campaign mock-ups that showed how ads could be tailored to include both the day of the week and a call-to-action tied to the listener’s location, and how the ads could be also specifically sequenced so that listeners start with the longer message, then hear shorter and shorter spots. “We believe that an advertiser’s personalized audio strategy will not only be unique to that advertiser,
Pandora dynamic audio
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Civil, the blockchain journalism startup, has partnered with one of the oldest names in media

Civil, the two-year-old crypto startup that wants to save the journalism industry by leveraging the blockchain and cryptoeconomics, has partnered with the 172-year-old Associated Press to help the wire service stop bad actors from stealing its content. Civil, using its blockchain-enabled licensing mechanism, which is still in development, will help the AP track where its content is going and whether it’s licensed correctly. In exchange, the AP has granted the newsrooms in Civil’s network licenses to its content. Civil, which has raised $5 million from the blockchain venture studio ConsenSys, plans to make the licensing tool available to all the newsrooms in its ecosystem once it’s up and running. Matthew Iles, the founder and CEO of Civil, told TechCrunch he wants the company to become the new economy for journalism, uprooting the long-standing ad-based revenue model and providing journalists ownership of their content. Beyond that, he wants to reinstate trust
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