Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 Reasons Disney Will Pay Up to $950 Million to Be on YouTube

5 Reasons Disney Will Pay Up to $950 Million to Be on YouTube

5 Reasons Disney Will Pay Up to $950 Million to Be on YouTube

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 11:27 AM PDT

Disney added yet another trophy to its entertainment empire Monday with the purchase of YouTube network Maker Studios. The deal, which could be valued at as much as $950 million if Maker meets certain growth targets, isn’t as big as Disney’s $4 billion purchases of Lucasfilm and Marvel, but it could have huge strategic significance to the company’s long-term health.

Maker Studios partners with YouTube video creators on 55,000 different channels that cover a wide range of topics, from video games to sports to fashion. In exchange for providing technical, financial and promotional support, Maker collects a portion of the ad revenues for videos that are posted in its network. Details on the company's financial performance are closely guarded, but it has grown considerably in the past year, from 2 billion YouTube views per month in late 2012 to 5.5 billion currently.

Now, Disney will have direct access to Maker's viral stars and its 380 million YouTube subscribers. Here are five ways Disney may use Maker to boost its overall business:

Recruit New Talent

Much of Disney's success is built on the backs of young stars like Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan. But YouTube is becoming an increasingly viable training ground for creative people that eventually become TV stars. A YouTube series called Annoying Orange was developed into a TV show for Cartoon Network. The creators of a new Nickelodeon cartoon called Breadwinners got discovered through a short they posted on the video site. YouTube stars have even been consulted by President Obama as he tries to pitch his Affordable Care Act to young adults. Disney will now be able to easily comb the Maker roster for its next set of young celebrities and influencers. Many already have huge followings, like Felix Kjellberg, a twenty-something Swede whose PewDiePie video game channel leads YouTube in popularity with 25 million subscribers.

Plug Disney Products Online

If there's anything Disney loves, it's shoehorning promotions for its own products into every entertainment property possible. That's why Good Morning America, which airs on the Disney subsidiary ABC, organized a nationwide singalong last month of "Let It Go," from Disney's latest hit film Frozen. It's why Lindsay Lohan works at the Disney-owned ESPN in the company's 2005 film Herbie: Fully Loaded. This strategy can now reach over to YouTube, where the company could try to spark viral interest around its movies and TV shows aimed at young audiences. Frozen has already been a huge hit online, with a variety of official and user-generated videos garnering 477 million views on YouTube, according to Tubefilter.

Broker Better Ad Deals

The reason Maker Studios appeals to YouTube creators in the first place is because the company is able to use the massive scale of its network to negotiate better ad deals with prominent companies. Disney could extend this scale by bundling YouTube ads with other types of ad units, such as television commercials. If Maker Studios grows large enough to control a significant portion of YouTube content, the company could also force Google to offer more favorable revenue-sharing terms. Currently YouTube keeps about 45 percent of all ad revenue on the site.

Wash Away Past Digital Failures

Though Disney dominates film and TV, the company has yet to find much success online. Disney bought social media gaming company Playdom for $563 million in 2010, right before casual gaming migrated en masse from Facebook to the iPhone. Just last month the company laid off 700 employees from its Interactive group, which manages Disney’s online games and consumer-facing websites. Maker will offer Disney a chance to begin anew with big online ventures. In a sign that Disney views Maker as an opportunity for a clean slate, the YouTube network will operate independently of the struggling Disney Interactive.

Prepare for the Cord-Cutting Future

Subscribers to pay-TV decreased for the first time ever in 2013. That's a worrisome sign for Disney, which owns more than a dozen broadcast and cable networks. YouTube, citing Nielsen, claims that it reaches more US adults between the ages of 18 and 34 than any cable network. It makes sense that Disney would establish itself on the quickly growing platform before some other company does. DreamWorks, for instance, snapped up a YouTube network of its own last year. “YouTube’s young-skewing content appeals to the same demographic as many of Disney’s concerns in movies and cable TV,” Anna Stuart, a TV programming analyst for IHS Screen Digest, said in an email. “The allegation that YouTube is taking away those audiences in a zero-sum game is hard to prove—however, this move shows that Disney is not taking any chances.”

Sports Fans Will Tune Out the NFL in 10 Years

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 11:25 AM PDT

Mark Cuban, the high-profile entrepreneur and outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, recently said, "Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered." And the pig/hog he was referring to is the NFL.

Over the weekend, Cuban, who is well-known as both the brash owner of the 2011 NBA champion Mavericks and one of the stars of ABC’s “Shark Tank” entrepreneur-based reality TV show, went on a rant about the NFL. Essentially, Cuban warned the league—by far the biggest TV ratings superstar among pro sports—that it was getting greedy, what with more games planned for Thursday and Saturday nights, and speculation that Wednesday games could be next.

"They're trying to take over every night of TV," Cuban said to a group of reporters on Sunday night before a Mavericks-Nets game. “Initially, it'll be the biggest rating thing there is. Then, if they get Saturday, now they're impacting college. And then if they go to Wednesday, at some point, people get sick of it."

Soon, Cuban warned, there will be a fan backlash, and the NFL will regret over-saturating the market. “I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” he said. “I’m just telling you: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy.

“Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule No. 1 of business.”

The warning probably would have been taken to heart to a greater degree by NFL interests had it been issued by someone without such obvious self-interest in stopping football from dominating TV viewing on more days of the week. Nonetheless, Cuban is hardly the only person who thinks the NFL could be getting too money hungry and is spreading itself too thin. Fans find a wide range of NFL policies to be greedy and odious, including practices such as charging full price for preseason games, blacking out games on TV locally when stadiums don’t sell out, and whacking season-ticket holders with ridiculous “seat fees” that are mandatory for anyone seeking the privilege of buying a home-game ticket package. NFL players themselves are worried about the prospect of more and more football—see the union smacking down owners’ quest to expand to an 18-game season—though admittedly players are most concerned about their own safety and team owners’ apparent unwillingness to share the wealth created by more games.

To what degree does Cuban’s assessment have validity? In light of record-high TV ratings for the NFL and commonplace season ticket waitlists for popular teams, it certainly seems like the league isn’t anywhere near the saturation point yet.

“Ubiquitous football won’t turn fans off on its own,”’s Kevin Seifert wrote in response to Cuban’s “hoggy” comments. Still, Seifert agreed that the possibility of something approaching implosion could take place down the line. “Here’s what will send people looking elsewhere: Ubiquitous bad football. If the inconsistent and/or short rest involved in playing on days other than Sunday diminishes the standard NFL quality of play, then the league will in fact have overextended.”

Jerry Jones, Dallas’s other loud, brash pro sports titan as owner of the NFL Cowboys, said that, to some degree, Cuban is right. “Any time you're having success, then it's a fool who's not aware that that could change,” Jones said on Monday. But Jones, a graduate of the University of Arkansas, home of the Razorbacks, also sharply put Cuban in his place.

“I respect Mark,” Jones said. “But with all due respect, I know more about pigs than Mark does. I was taught as a Razorback to be lean and mean, not a little fat pig.”

Here’s How to Gorge On $1.99 All-You-Can-Eat Pancakes

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 11:22 AM PDT

If the Roy Rogers fast food franchise is known for anything, it’s the signature “Fixin’s Bar,” where diners customize sandwiches with pickles, onions, lettuce, and condiments. Now the Bar is full of whipped cream, syrups, and other toppings, available with an all-you-can-eat pancake deal for just $1.99.

There were once roughly 650 Roy Rogers restaurants in the U.S., most located in the Mid-Atlantic states. In the 1990s, though, the Marriott-owned chain was sold to fast-food rival Hardee’s, and over the years the vast majority of restaurant locations were resold and converted into other brands, including McDonald’s, Boston Market, and Wendy’s. Today, there are 50 Roy Rogers locations concentrated in the corridor between Virginia and upstate New York, up from a low of around a dozen in the late ’90s.

The company, under new ownership, has ambitions to open up as many as 100 new Roy Rogers locations over the next five or so years. In light of a new promotion, it’s clear that one way the company hopes to grow is by attracting more customers into restaurants earlier in the day.

Subway, Taco Bell, and many other fast food chains have rolled out new menu items and launched the gamut of promotions to juice sales during normally slow times—breakfast in particular. Now, a Roy Rogers breakfast deal is available at shockingly low price, and it plays up the brand’s Fixin’s Bar to boot.

(MORE: Fast Food Wants You to Eat More Than the Usual Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)

Now, participating Roy Rogers’ Fixin’s Bars will “feature an ultimate pancake garnish station complete with whipped cream, sprinkles and an assortment of syrup choices including chocolate, blueberry and, of course, classic pancake syrup,” according to a company release. Customers are welcomed to buttermilk pancakes and a choice of toppings on an all-you-can-eat basis for a measly $1.99, during normal breakfast hours on Saturdays and Sundays through May 25

Meat The 125-Pound Hot Dog

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 11:22 AM PDT

In case you haven’t eaten lunch yet: a restaurant owner cooked up a hot dog that weighs 125.5 pounds at the Miami-Dade County Fair in Florida last week, hoping to set a new Guinness World Record for world’s largest hot dog.

The Miami Herald reports Brett Enright, owner of Juicys Outlaw Grill in Corvallis, Oregon, made it on a grill that was 100-feet-long. The wiener was 51 pounds on its own, and the rest of the weight came from the bun, mustard, ketchup, relish, and sliced onions. It was cut up, and each piece was sold for $1 to benefit an organization that provides services for the homeless.

There has been a Guinness World Record for largest hot dog commercially, which was 7 pounds, 16 inches long, and 4 inches in diameter, and was created in 2o11 in Paraguay by Gorilla Tango Novelty Meats CEO Dan Abbate.

If Enright’s hot dog sets a Guinness World Record, it would be his second; he has also held the record for world’s largest commercially available hamburger, which was 777 pounds, cost $5,000 and was sold at his restaurant Juicys Outlaw Grill.


Tennessee Won’t Redefine Whiskey This Year

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 11:17 AM PDT

An effort to rewrite a Tennessee law that defines the state’s whiskey based largely off Jack Daniel’s decades-old processes failed in the state senate Tuesday, despite being championed by a rival spirits producer.

Diageo, a British multinational beverage company that owns George Dickel Tennessee whiskey, pushed legislators to revisit the law, which passed last year at the urging of Jack Daniel’s, by far the biggest whiskey producer in the state. The 2013 law mandates that any spirit called Tennessee Whiskey must be stored in new charred oak barrels and filtered through charcoal, as Jack Daniel’s is. Diageo argued that the guidelines are too restrictive and hinder experimentation, giving Jack Daniel’s—owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Brown-Forman—an unfair advantage.

Loosening the restrictions appeared to have momentum, but on Tuesday, Republican State Sen. Mark Green moved the bill to a summer study committee, killing its chances of passing this year.

“I think it’s time we stop debating about making good whiskey and get back to making good whiskey,” says Brown-Forman Senior Vice President Jim O’Malley, adding that he believes the reason the bill died in committee is because it didn’t have the support of a majority of craft distillers. Tennessee Whiskey was one of the last segments of the spirits market that didn’t have a codified definition similar to bourbon or cognac, and O’Malley says the law benefits all Tennessee distillers because it ensures a high-quality product.

Diageo, however, viewed the move to the study committee as a small win.

“The Tennessee legislature has done the right thing and now, rather than having one company dictate for everyone, we can do this the right way and come together in an open forum to discuss how to create the best standards for Tennessee Whiskey,” Guy Smith, executive vice president of Diageo, said in a statement.

Chris Evans Says He Wants to Quit Acting

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 10:53 AM PDT

If Captain America had a cape, Marvel star Chris Evans would be ready to hang it up. Evans told Variety that he would be ready to completely retire from acting — if only his contract would let him.

The 32-year-old actor signed a six-movie deal with Marvel — after some encouragement from Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. Evans will have to don the patriotic latex for three more films, which he thinks will wrap up in 2017.

"If I'm acting at all, it's going to be under Marvel contract, or I'm going to be directing," Evans said. "I can't see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I'm contractually obligated to do."


This Is What High-Fives Look Like to Your Hand 

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 10:46 AM PDT

What does running around a city high-fiving random strangers look like to your hand? It looks totally awesome, as this video proves.

Artist Andrew Maxwell-Parish thinks handshakes are kind of lame. "It’s a gesture with no soul and reeks of a corporate entity," he writes in a set of instructions to build the project. "Why must we limit ourselves to this one boring interaction?" To prove the ultimate supremacy of the high-five, he made a helmet-camera rig to record himself giving high-fives.

The result is both a little ridiculous and a lot charming. As he walks along city streets or beach boardwalks, the artist swings his hand out wide. Every person Maxwell-Parish meets, young or old, gives a wide grin as they receive and reciprocate the high-five. Who wouldn't?

The 5 Best In-Ear Headphones

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 10:33 AM PDT

Here are the five best in-ear headphones you can buy right now, based on data from our friends at FindTheBest. Each ranking is based on FindTheBest's Smart Rating, which aggregates scores from gadget review sites along with specifications and audio ratings (impedance, sensitivity, high and low frequencies, etc.) for each set of headphones.

Watch the video above and then click on any of the headphones in the below graph to learn more about each model:


What You Need to Know About the Ebola Virus

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 10:18 AM PDT

Updated March 25, 2014, 2:23 p.m.

The West African country of Guinea is experiencing an outbreak of deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and a brief scare that the virus had appeared in Canada this morning was quickly ruled out.

This is the first time Ebola has been detected in Guinea, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has a fatality rate of up to 90%. As of Monday, there were 86 suspected cases and 59 deaths from Ebola in Guinea. According to Gregory Härtl, head of WHO public relations, 13 of the cases have been confirmed as Ebola. People outside of Guinea have little to worry about, but here are five things you need to know about the deadly disease:

What is Ebola?

Ebola hemorrhagic fever as an often fatal disease that can by contracted by humans and nonhuman primates like monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees. It’s caused by the virus Ebolavirus, the first cases occurred in 1976 in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Why is the Guinea outbreak more worrisome than others?

There have been other ebola outbreaks in Africa in the past, but this case appears to be especially contagious. “In Guinea, a country with a weak medical infrastructure, an outbreak like this can be devastating," UNICEF Representative in Guinea, Dr.Mohamed Ag Ayoya said in a statement.But since nearly everyone with the disease dies, it’s unlikely to infect mass numbers of people like, say, HIV.

Where did Ebola come from and how is it transmitted?

The original host of the disease is unknown, but researchers believe it definitely came from an animal, with bats being the most likely culprits. Ebola infects humans through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected animals, WHO says. Human-to-human transmission is more difficult, but it’s possible through close contact with bodily fluids of infected people. Health workers without proper protection can be infected, as well as people conducting burial ceremonies where they have direct contact with the body.

Härtl says there may be multiple points of entry for the disease in humans in Guinea.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Ebola can appear between two to 21 days after initial contact, and include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. These symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhea rash, and poor kidney and liver function. In some cases, a patient can also experience internal and external bleeding.

How is it treated?

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. Patients are usually dehydrated, so they are given oral or intravenous fluid containing electrolytes. Patients must be quarantined. There are currently treatments and vaccines under development, but most have not been tested in humans. It may be a long time before any treatment is confirmed to work.

The story was updated with the number of confirmed Ebola cases.

Watch Wes Anderson Behind the Scenes of The Grand Budapest Hotel

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 10:02 AM PDT

The distinct, whimsical colors that are characteristic of Wes Anderson films make yet another appearance in the director’s latest creation, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Even in the unedited footage, it’s clear that the color palette was meticulously thought-out, from the green and orange lobby carpeting to the sharp purple uniforms.

Watch Anderson in action throughout the filming process — interacting with actors, running on- and off-set, crouching behind a screen — all with perfectly messy hair.

The best part? Seeing the camera crew, looking quite out of place, rush down the long hallways of that grand hotel with their various rigs. Watch it up top.


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