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DCNF 2014-15

Rating the 2014 NewFronts

Highlights and headscratchers from some of this year's big events

The Digital Content NewFronts are here, and this time we’ve got multimillion-dollar-an-episode series, lots of unduplicated viewership and serious inventory scarcity. Wait, no, that’s traditional TV. On the digital side of programming, we still seem to be a long way from an ad-supported show on the level of House of Cards, and the smartest players seem to be emphasizing subscription services and integrations over pile-’em-high spots and dots. Among the highlights: Yahoo promises a new sci-fi comedy from Paul Feig and a single-cam sitcom about a basketball team in Vegas; Time Inc. launches a digital video hub its first year in the mix; and Project Y ... uh, Glam ... uh, Mode Media rebrands. Overall, this year’s crop of presentations have been notably better-paced and less snafu-prone than last year’s bunch. –Sam Thielman, with Emma Bazilian, Michelle Castillo, Christopher Heine and Garett Sloane

AOL

Buyers grumbled about the fact that the easiest way to get to this NewFront (in the Brooklyn Navy Yard) was by boat, but at least the Web giant turned the affair into a booze cruise. AOL announced its 16 new Web series jammed with celebrities who also attended the event, notably Sarah Jessica Parker, Steve Buscemi and Zoe Saldana. –M.C. ►►►

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed’s tagline should be C.R.E.A.M.: Cats rule everything around me. Despite no news, many interested ears perked up. The line to get in stretched more than halfway down an avenue block, so some watched the TED Talk-style presentation on a live feed in a separate theater. –M.C. ►►

Condé Nast Entertainment

The seamless event ran right on schedule, and CNE introduced a splashy new hub called The Scene, but could have done away with most of the “We’re upscale! We’re millennials!” stuff. Quotable: “The bartenders at the after-party aren’t actors; they’re print editors who didn’t make the transition to digital, so please slip them a few bucks.” –E.B. ►►►►

Crackle

Buyers had to hustle to get from the Hulu show to Crackle a scant 45 minutes later. Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, star of the network’s promising new comedy offering, Tightrope, had a Broadway matinee performance to make. Cranston was the main event, and the venue was a rainy schlep away from subways and cabs—but there was food! –S.T. ►►►

Hulu

Few new originals graced this slick event (its top execs are all new on the job), but one thing definitely got buyers talking: a Pizza Hut ad through which viewers can buy a pie midshow. And at a very early presentation, food was on everyone’s mind. Instead, they got upbeat indie rockers Capital Cities. –S.T. ►►►

Microsoft

“Let’s all get soft—I’m talking Microsoft, ladies and gentlemen,” quipped comedian Craig Robinson at Microsoft’s NewFront. As Robinson pointed out in a jokey song, Microsoft has the money to make these bets on new shows: Steven Spielberg is producing its big swing—an adaptation of the hit video game Halo—and Xbox certainly has the audience, with 1.3 billion potential viewers connected. –G.S. ►►►►► 

YouTube

Two thousand people filled Madison Square Garden Theater for the YouTube Brandcast, a splashy shindig with performances from Pharrell and Janelle Monáe. Video maker Bethany Mota talked movingly about being cyber-bullied at 13, warming hearts on a chilly evening dominated by glitz, tech bluster and hockey fans trying to get into the Rangers’ Game 7. –C.H. ►►►►

 

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