Apple Inc on Friday announced a multiyear deal with Oprah Winfrey to create original programming, a coup in the battle for A-list talent and projects in the booming digital entertainment market.
“Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” Apple said in a statement.
Apple gave no details of the type of programming that Winfrey would create, the value of the deal, or when it might be released. Winfrey had no immediate comment.
Winfrey, 64, an influential movie and TV producer who also publishes a magazine, is expected to appear on screen, a source familiar with the deal said.
Apple has not said how it plans to distribute its programming, to which it has committed an initial $1 billion. The partnership is the biggest original content deal struck by Apple so far as it aims to compete with Netflix Inc,
Amazon.com Inc and Time Warner Inc’s HBO. Netflix, which has said it will spend up to $8 billion on programming this year, in May struck a multiyear deal with former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to produce films, documentaries and other content.
Netflix, the world’s leading streaming entertainment provider, has also lured prolific television producers Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes away from broadcast television.
Amazon said in November it had bought the global television rights to “The Lord of the Rings” and would produce a multi-season series that explores new storylines preceding author J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Earlier this week, Amazon also announced a development deal with
Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman’s production company for movies and television.
For its part, Apple in November ordered two seasons of a dramatic series with Hollywood stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, looking at the lives of people working on a morning television show.
Other projects Apple has announced include a remake of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s science fiction anthology series “Amazing Stories,” based on Isaac Asimov’s influential “Foundation” science fiction novels, and a drama from “La La Land” movie director Damian Chazelle.
Under the deal with Winfrey, she will remain chief executive of cable channel OWN, which she launched in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Inc. Winfrey in December extended her contract with OWN through 2025, OWN and Apple said.
Under her contract with OWN, Winfrey can appear on camera on other platforms on a limited basis.
Known in the United States by millions on a first-name basis, Winfrey rose to fame as the host of her own television talk show, using it to build a media empire that spans magazine publishing, movie and television production, cable TV and satellite radio.
Born into poverty, she is one of the world’s wealthiest women and has been nominated for two Academy Awards.
A rousing speech by Winfrey at the Golden Globes awards ceremony in January triggered an online campaign to persuade her to run for U.S. president in 2020.
Search engine giant Google on Monday launched Grow with Google OnAir that will help impart free digital skills training to everyone in the US and Canada for the first time.
The in-person ‘Grow with Google’ was launched in 2017 to help Americans get the digital skills they need to succeed.
To date, the Grow with Google programme has trained more than 4 million Americans on digital skills.
“Though we’re no longer able to gather in person, that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. So we’re announcing virtual programmes from Grow with Google that can help,” Jesse Haines, Director, Grow with Google said in a statement.
The aim is to empower people — particularly jobseekers and small businesses — who are facing uncertainty and looking for digital skills training to help them increase their economic potential.
Google said it will offer digital skills training, interviews with career experts and programming from partners including Merit America and the National Congress of American Indians.
Topics will include “How to manage your business remotely in times of uncertainty” and “How to improve your resume with four practical strategies.”
After attending a Grow with Google OnAir workshop, attendees who are looking for more personalized help can register for a free one-on-one coaching session with a Googler.
“In addition to Grow with Google OnAir, which is available across the US, we continue to support our team of local Digital Coaches and our network of more than 7,000 local partner organizations, so that they can teach virtual workshops in their communities,” said Google. (IANS)
With the COVID-19 crisis forcing a brutal shutdown of life as we knew it, independent creators on social media are finding themselves in a dilemma — stranded at home, starved of novel engagement ideas, lavish production crews, and most of all, branded content opportunities that drive in the dollars.
To begin with, who is an ‘influencer’, exactly?
“..in today’s digital world, the word ‘influencer’ is most commonly ascribed to someone who has clout through her/his digital channels, or as some like to call it, ‘social currency’. Whether she/he has a lot of followers or really high engagement, when she/he speaks, their audience listens, they act, and – most importantly to brands – they buy,” writes Brittany Hennessey in her book ‘Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media’.
Behind the glitzy, aspirational world of social media influencers, was the monetary power of brands – which was not lost on younger audiences, who got drawn in awe and even the desire to replicate those breezy travel photographs, latest fashion trends, and flamboyant makeup videos they saw.
“In many ways fashion influencers are all about “showing off” they are driven by encouraging consumptionï¿½so this pandemic has thrown their industry a real curveball,” states author and journalist Sujata Assomull, adding, “Some of it has seemed insensitive and has exposed how banal and transactional the business of fashion influencing is.”
Privileged social media influencers (read celebrities) who are used to capitalising their status and wealth, flaunting and at times even posturing a jet setting lifestyle (usually paid for by brand partnerships), are stuck at home today with little else to upload than Tik-Tok videos. With the paid frills on hold the lack of creativity screams out.
Assomull, author of ‘100 Iconic Costumes of Bollywood’ emphasises, “Of course there are exceptions, who have used their network and reel of “influence” positively. Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni set the tone for this back in early March when she used her platform to raise funds for a Milan based hospitalï¿½and has donated millions of Euros by using her influencer status smartly… Closer to home, Scherezade Shroff Talwar (@sherryshroff) has co-founded Qurancharity with marketing consultant Pri Shewakramani. It is a platform which offers webinars for a small fee on a variety of topics from art, wine-tasting, fashion, to social media led by some of India’s best, be it Manish Malhotra, Saffronart’s Minal Vazirani or Instagram’s Niharika Pande. The money raised goes to NGOs such as Goonj, who are doing a lot of on ground work with migrant workers.”
From high-profile business meetings, workout sessions, professional photoshoots, and travel photographs to make one green with envy, the social media handles of A-list celebrities like Karan Johar, Shilpa Shetty and Malaika Arora are being populated with visuals of their pets, children and often, just themselves, captured in home settings. While there’s a slim chance that they lose their following, now might be a good time for them to channel their following into more ‘positive’ pursuits focusing on slow fashion, mental health, sustainability initiatives, carbon footprints, support groups, donations or any cause close to their core.
Witnessing a paradigm shift in influencer marketing, Malini Agarwal, Founder and Creative Director of MissMalini, thinks we’re currently in the first phase of an economic shock. “In this phase there are some categories that are benefitting from the lockdown, and we’ve seen an increase in spends from them (like insurance, personal care/hygiene, pharmaceuticals). However, the large majority of brands have been forced to put a hold on most marketing activations, either because demand has crashed or because of supply chain and logistics issues,” she told IANSlife.
Agarwal believes, “Once we move into phase two and beyond ï¿½ when we’ll have a better idea of the long-term consequences of the lockdown ï¿½ you can expect brands to re-assess their spends again to match market outlook. It’s too early to tell what the world will look like, and in what manner we will emerge from social distancing, but I tend to agree with the experts who are forecasting a drop in advertising in the 30-40 percent range this year.”
But with people stuck indoors in self-isolation, screen time is bound to have increased. The most visible way creators have overcome the confines of their homes is through live video streaming. Open Instagram and you’re bound to see dozens of lives going on at any time, often in the form of interviews or group chats.
Kylie Jenner on Instagram, dated March 28
In a statement to IANSlife, social media platform Instagram stated, “Instagram is the home of creativity and expression and at a time when social distancing is the new normal, we’re seeing this in a more prominent way than before. Culture, is clearly going virtual and the increase of Instagram Live views by 60 percent* is a clear indication of that. We’re also seeing interactivity spur with new public figures like Kareena Kapoor joining the platform, release of new tools and features like the ‘Stay Home’ sticker and ‘Stay Home’ AR collection effects which includes the much popular ï¿½Guess the gibberish’ effect and more real and authentic content from creators.”
On asking the social media giant what this meant for brands? “For brands, this means that while they continue to be empathetic and responsible in their communication, engaging with influencers on branded content continues to be a good way to highlight their utility in a personal way. We’re already seeing brands take this route and we expect to see more of this, as economic activity begins, but social distancing norms continue,” stated Instagram with a positive outlook for the coming months.
To that end Assomull points out, “I would like to say that the Indian fashion media has mostly risen to the occasion be it ‘Vogue India’ and ‘Grazia’ India who immediately made their April digital magazine free. I have really enjoyed the ‘Vogue Warrior’ series which highlights the work of women who are at the frontline of this crisis, such as Dr Minal Dakhave Bhosale, Shefali Desai, and Mitali Patil the women behind India’s first Covid-19 testing kits. Vogue’s May cover ï¿½ which is a type and audio cover with words and voiceover done by Pulitzer prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, literally gives you goosebumps.”
Agarwal reveals, “We’re also loving the live performances from comedians, musicians and author sessions and industry webinars on platforms like Zoom. Creators are also using this opportunity to collaborate with other creators stuck at home, including challenges like ‘pass the brush’ where each creator films their part at home and everything gets spliced together to form one larger video.”
The other point to keep in mind is that both International and domestic travel is at a standstill, and is the supplies of non-essential e-commerce items and by extension brand partnerships; thus causing product delivered high-quality visual content to take a hit.
“We’ve been working from home for years now, and this is not too different. Of course, there are no big shoots with videographers, a full team and production crew are obviously not happening but this is a good time to go back to how we started and explore creative things that we can do with no one to help us. I feel that creativity comes out when there are less means or in times of difficulty so I’m actually happy,” Sejal Kumar, who has 760 thousand followers on Instagram, told IANSlife.
With 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube, popular vlogger Gaurav Taneja finds it a good time for a different category of creators. “There are creators like vloggers, singers, vine-makers — they have a lot of time and audience but the constraint is that there are no ideas. Sitting at home, how many ideas can you get? It’s challenging to find new and engaging content after a while. People who are really creative are making good use of this lockdown,” he says.
Since most content creators are also entrepreneurs, driving their own project-based income by either reaching out or getting reached out to, money is a tap slowly running dry. As per Taneja, payments for posts or videos done before the lockdown is “stuck”, as is the case with many small businesses.
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Taking a different route, comedians like Amit Tandon, are also diversifying their revenue streams by taking on writing roles. Many, with canceled comedy tours and no live gigs, are resorting to posting old content to keep the engagement flowing.
How to manage the situation, then? “Be aware of the current situation and how it may be affecting your audience. Interact and stay in touch with your fans to understand what kind of content they want from you under these circumstances. Every creator will have a different plan depending on their domain expertise, their audience demographics, and even what’s physically possible at the moment. Are your fans just looking for a laugh, or do they want more serious content related to Coronavirus? Look into your analytics ï¿½ which of your content is doing better currently?” said Malini Agarwal.
Assomull believes, “Pre-Covid brands looked to influencers to connect with consumers, through this lockdown building a sense of community through engaging content has been very important… Storytelling has never been of more importance, and I think it will be about the survival of the fittest.” (IANS)
In an endeavour to raise public awareness on the novel coronavirus, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has partnered with Amazon India, to launch the “Fight Against COVID-19 #AwareIndiaSafeIndia; Digital Campaign”.
Using digital platforms and online community engagement, the campaign will drive awareness on the importance of precautionary measures in combating COVID -19, such as physical distancing and maintaining hygiene. In addition to this, Amazon and NSDC will engage students and skill trainees through NSDC’s network of over 11,000 Training Centres, 800+ Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra and digital interfaces.
Commenting on the campaign, Dr. Manish Kumar, MD & CEO, National Skill Development Corporation said, “The chain of infection can be broken by creating awareness at scale and we believe that Amazon can scale up digital communication in a short span of time, covering millions and impacting community behavior positively.”
Responding to the government’s appeal to the private sector to step forward in the fight against COVID-19, Minari Shah, Head CSR and Director Corporate Communications, Amazon India says “COVID-19 has impacted communities across the country. Relay of accurate information especially regarding preventive measures is the need of the hour for a voluntary and willing effort by people to control the pandemic. We are keen to use our digital channels to disseminate authentic information about the Do’s and Don’ts about coronavirus to people in far corners of India and help keep India safe.”
The partnership will identify volunteers, namely ‘COVID-19 Digital Heroes’ through digital outreach across various platforms. Students who are a part of Amazon’s ALEXA student ambassador program will also act as COVID-19 Digital Heroes and help amplify the campaign further. The campaign’s content will be aligned with the official communication and guidance from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Aarogya Setu app that has been launched recently.(IANS)