Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Discovery, Electus, IGN, Shine, MotorTrend, Clevver, YouTube
--Discovery Appoints Gabe Vehovsky to Lead New Digital Strategy & Emerging Businesses Team
--Discovery Launches "Social Platform" for its Investigation Discovery Channel
--Electus Appoints Veteran TV Executive, Bruce Seidel, to Lead its New Food-Focused YouTube Channel
--Gaming-, Automotive- and Showbiz-Themed Original Channels Launch on YouTube
Due to the large volume of news generated by the recent 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and other factors, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us several more days to process all the news from the show: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.
- Discovery Communications on Tuesday announced the formation of a new Digital Strategy & Emerging Business team that will be tasked with developing new digital businesses and will be led by Gabe Vehovsky (who will report to Kelly Day, EVP and general manager of digital media and commerce). "As executive vice president, digital strategy and emerging businesses, Vehovsky will lead the newly formed team in identifying digital businesses that will satisfy Discovery's mission to delight audiences and increase viewer engagement across platforms," the company states in its press materials. "Part think tank and part product and partnership development, Vehovsky's unit will manage a carefully selected pipeline of new digital initiatives, working in conjunction with Discovery's leadership. The Digital Strategy & Emerging Businesses team is specifically structured to foster an entrepreneurially minded approach to identifying and nurturing business opportunities worth investing in...In his previous position as executive vice president, digital media strategy and client solutions, Vehovsky was responsible for the development and execution of strategies and cutting-edge advertising opportunities designed to maximize revenue for Discovery's portfolio of Web sites, including HowStuffWorks.com and network sites such as Discovery.com and TLC.com. Utilizing research and analytics to measure audience behavior and engagement, Gabe oversaw the team that creates custom programs designed to provide a rich user experience that is designed and developed with key partner needs in mind. Vehovsky came to Discovery as executive vice president of strategy and research for HowStuffWorks.com, where he played a key role in taking the site from a small start-up to a premiere online destination, with the company's acquisition by Discovery Communications in 2007."
- In other Discovery news: The company's Investigation Discovery (ID) channel recently launched a Web site, IDaddicts.com, which it bills as a "social platform." The site allows fans of the network to converse with one another through Facebook and Twitter; set up personalized user profiles; and subscribe to updates from other users. It also provides them with information on upcoming programming, as well as the opportunity to participate in "weekly watch-and-win viewer giveaways of 'red hot'-themed prizes." Said Investigation Discovery president and general manager, Henry Schleiff: "By uniting fans under an official moniker and community base, IDAddicts.com plants a flag in our pledge to reward viewers for investing their time and curiosity in ID's programming. We are in ripe position to empower our flourishing social fan base with even more opportunities to chat, debate, and share theories about the true-crime stories they see on ID."
- Electus, the studio founded by high-profile entertainment executive Ben Silverman and owned by IAC, has appointed Bruce Seidel as CEO of its new, food-focused YouTube channel. Seidel was previously SVP of programming at the Cooking Channel. "Seidel began his post as CEO on January 23rd, where he is responsible for running the channel, including leading all creative, programming, scheduling, production, and marketing, as well as interfacing with advertising clients," Electus states in its press materials. "Seidel will report directly to Electus COO and head of digital, Drew Buckley. With more than 15 years of creating and scheduling programming for leading food television networks, including Food Network, Cooking Channel and Animal Planet, Seidel will apply his expertise of creating top-rated, compelling food-based original content to the Web, with Electus' yet-to-be-named, food-centric YouTube channel...Conceptualized in partnership with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the world's leading entertainment and sports agency, Electus' food-centric YouTube channel combines the food television leadership of Seidel with the online and mobile audience and bandwidth of leading foodie site Urbanspoon, to create the perfect blend of strong characters and unique personalities with real, helpful and most importantly, highly entertaining tidbits on everything food. The participating chefs will create amazing, accessible dishes, in ways never seen before, and will explore the world of food for a new generation of passionate food fanatics. CAA will access its extensive resources to create unique programming opportunities on behalf of the channel...Prior to his work at Cooking Channel, Seidel held the title of senior vice president of program planning and special productions at The Food Network where he developed and oversaw some of Food Network's top-rated programs, including 'The Next Food Network Star,' 'Worst Cooks In America,' 'Iron Chef America,' 'The Next Iron Chef,' the record-setting White House special 'Iron Chef America: Super Chef Battle,' and was responsible for importing the original Japanese version of 'Iron Chef.' Seidel also brought in popular British culinary programs featuring national food stars Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson." Electus' food-themed channel is being launched under the auspices of YouTube's original channels initiative, which the latter announced last October and which it says will see it launching around 100 professional-quality channels on its platform, and spending around $100 million to do so.
In other news about YouTube's original channels initiative: 1) IGN Entertainment and Shine Group on Tuesday launched a YouTube channel called START, that features live and long-form programming on gaming. "Produced and curated by IGN, the world's largest games media company--in partnership with Shine Group's Reveille Productions, a global production group best known for worldwide hits including 'The Biggest Loser,' 'MasterChef,' and 'The Office'--START will debut with five original shows, with new episodes available weekly," the companies state in their press materials. 2) MotorTrend magazine on Monday announced the launch of an automotive-themed channel that will feature professionally produced programming and that will be available alongside its existing short-form-content channel. 3) Clevver Media last week announced the launch of its seventh YouTube channel, ClevverNews, which offers entertainment news and celebrity gossip. 4) Entertainment/pop culture-themed channels--Young Hollywood Network (YHN) and ENTV (note: the latter is a joint venture between ION and PMC)--also launched on YouTube last month.