What 5 Digital Video Players Are Planning for Their NewFronts Presentations in May

Once anything but slick, digital video has emerged as a true rival to linear television and is the first choice for millions of consumers. That phenomenal growth has advertisers as well as viewers taking notice.

What was a $7.5 billion business in 2015 is projected to approach $10 billion this year. “Four years ago, the whole digital video business was a $2 billion business, and now we’re at a place where it’s growing $2 billion a year,” noted Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer at Mindshare. 

All that business begins in earnest in May, at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual Digital Content NewFronts. The two-week marketplace, which was launched in 2012 with just a handful of presenters, has grown to 40 participants. Here, a look at what five key players there have in store.

1

BuzzFeed

The site that went all in on video still needs to establish itself as “deserving to get a seat at the big table” alongside the likes of Hulu and YouTube, according to Bitterman. One way it plans to do that: its coverage of the run for the White House. With political campaigns set to invest $1 billion in digital video, BuzzFeed is banking on a native ad venture, run by former Pandora ad director Rena Shapiro.

Big number
75 million unique visitors in November 2015

Key stat
60 percent of traffic comes via mobile

Advertisers
Avon, Discover, Subway

2

PopSugar

It is one of the largest female-skewing publishers in the digital space. That’s why David Grant, president of PopSugar Studios, plans to use the NewFronts to push the brand as a whole rather than individual projects. “To say, ‘Here’s our year’ for any of us in the publishing business is to say we’re an old model that’s outdated,” said Grant.

Big number
Averages 39 million monthly unique visitors in the U.S.

Key stat
Reaches one in three female millennials

Advertisers
Levi’s, Macy’s, Pier 1 Imports

3

Fullscreen

This multichannel network is moving from YouTube producer to full-fledged media brand. Its biggest launch this year will be a subscription video-on-demand service, expected before the NewFronts.

“We want to be a multifaceted, multi-audience media company,” said head of ad sales Kevin McGurn. “SVOD is one of the vehicles that you drive toward so you can own, operate and distribute channels.” Added DigitasLBi chief content officer Scott Donaton: “The mere fact of being an MCN is probably no longer enough.”

Big number
Averages 5 billion video views per month

Key stat
Features 65,000 creators, including Grace Helbig and The Fine Bros.

Advertisers
Bud Light, General Electric, Mattel

4

Hulu

Last year saw Hulu break out in a big way, with high-profile projects from Amy Poehler and Jason Reitman. And coming up: the J.J. Abrams thriller 11/22/63. So is it more than just a streaming service?

“We’re TV, reinvented,” said Peter Naylor, head of ad sales. With its biggest competition in 2016 coming from streaming giants Netflix and Amazon as well as the traditional TV networks, Naylor plans to continue positioning Hulu as a new-age TV player. “If anything,” he said, “I’ll probably double down on that message.”

Big number
9 million subscribers

Key stat
Invested an estimated $1.5 billion in content in 2015, twice as much as the prior year

Advertisers
DreamWorks, Geico, Home Depot

5

Vice

This hot media brand will pull double duty this year. Aside from its regular place at the NewFronts, the company will be part of the traditional TV network upfronts as well, as A+E Networks’ H2 gets rebranded as Viceland.

David Cohen, Magna Global’s U.S. president and a critic of the NewFronts, noted that Vice is one of the few presenters he gets excited about. “Vice is one that approaches the world differently and has a unique proposition,” he said.

Big number
Reaches more than 200 million unique visitors per month across 11 channels

Key stat
Broadly, its first female-oriented channel, was the biggest launch in its history

Advertisers
Google, Intel, Unilever

This story first appeared in the Jan. 4 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.