It's the halfway point of 2016, a perfect time to take stock of the best entertainment offerings of the half-year. Check out our picks for the biggest digital entertainment trends of the year are below — and since "The top 16 of 2016" is exactly 50 ...
It's the halfway point of 2016, a perfect time to take stock of the best entertainment offerings of the half-year. Check out our picks for the biggest digital entertainment trends of the year are below — and since "The top 16 of 2016" is exactly 50% premature, we chose the Top 8.
Also check out our lists of the best television episodes, movies, games, albums, and beauty moments that have happened in the first half of 2016.
1. All things live
Image: BRITTANY HERBERT/MASHABLEEarlier this months, House Democrats live streamed a sit-in to protest the Republican majority's inaction on gun control. But to the general public, the House floor footage was only available on social media, with even CSPAN broadcasting Periscope feeds.
That moment in itself was yet another indicator that live streaming is the future. The genre has been growing in popularity over the last year, with many jumping in the space in hopes of rivaling Twitter's Periscope.
Of all the platforms offering live, Facebook has become a giant. Its service is being used by publications (including Mashable), celebrities and now even digital influencers.
At VidCon, YouTube became the latest to double down its live efforts by finally announcing the live streaming feature for its mobile app.
Others in the live streaming space include: StreamUp, launched by Maker Studios and Endemol alum Will Keenan, recently announced its first slate of live-streaming originals; YouNow, which also recently launched new original content, including one with RokerLabs, a New York-based video and live streaming studio spearheaded by Today Show co-host Al Roker.
The app — which became known as a popular platform for 15-second music videos - was the most talked about one at VidCon.
Though it officially launched in 2014, it didn't take off until around the summer of 2015. Now it has over 100 million users, most of whom are teens.
Its success has led to a handful of young users becoming overnight instant successes. Jacob Satorius, a 13-year-old baby-faced user, has become a musical sensation and heartthrob. At VidCon, thousands flocked to the music.ly booth to see him, one of the rare instances of fan craziness at an otherwise tame and heavily secure VidCon this year.
The creators behind music.ly even launched live.ly — a live streaming sister app — at VidCon. Since then, it's already risen to the top of the iTunes download charts.
3. Snapchat copy-cats
Image: facebookIt seems face filters are a force to be reckoned with.
Snapchat has become the platform for teens to play around with their selfies. But other companies, noticing the surge of face-tracking, want to get teens interested in their own services.
At VidCon, AOL launched Switch, which enables users to swap their face with a variety of content such as 3D avatars, masks and 3D content.
That same day, Facebook also announced at VidCon that people using the face filters on the MSQRD app will be able to go live on Facebook directly from within the app.
4. Mobile programming
Who knew that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's next project would be a show...for mobile.
Their reality competition The Runner, which launched Friday, became the latest programming addition to Verizon's go90 platform. That brings the platform's total number of titles to approximately 45,000, which is a whole lot considering the telecommunications giant launched the platform in October of last year.
The new series will follow an individual over a 30-day period of time as he or she "attempts to make it across the United States unnoticed over the course of 30 days, while the entire country endeavors to locate and capture him or her using all available technology." At stake? $1 million for the Runner and the chase teams (called "Chasers").
"The technology finally caught up with the format of the show," said Craig Piligian, President and CEO of Pilgrim Films & Television, which co-produces The Runner with Adaptive Studios.
Though go90 has acquired a ton of content from digital giants — including a show hosted by Snooki and J-Woww from AwesomenessTV's Awestruck — Affleck and Damon's project is probably the platform's biggest "get" to date.
But Verizon isn't alone in capitalizing on the growth of mobile viewership. According to research firm eMarketer, U.S. adults will spend an average of 3 hours and 8 minutes per day on mobile devices, excluding voice activities. The firm's research suggests Millennials are also the most active video viewers of any U.S. age group.
AT&T has also increased its efforts to back digital programming.
In hopes of becoming the mobile provider for the "connected generation," AT&T added to its entertainment offerings with the launch of Hello Lab in February.
In partnership with Fullscreen, the program gives 10 influencers — including YouTuber Grace Helbig, travel duo Damon and Jo, musicians Us The Duo, magician Collins Key, Instagram comedian Brandon Armstrong and Snapchat superstar Shaun McBride (a.k.a. Shonduras) — the opportunity to "create their most innovative dream projects with a cadenced release schedule throughout the year offering multiple touch points for consumers."
5. SVOD overload
Image: betYou get a SVOD service! And you get a SVOD service! And you get a SVOD service!
From Lionsgate's Kevin Hart LOL platform to the most recent launch of BET Play, it seems like everyone and anyone is launching their own subscription streaming service these days.
The question is: Will all of them survive? Who even subscribes? Correction: Who has the money to subscribe?
For now it's clear that Netflix, Amazon and Hulu remain the three giants. YouTube Red is betting on its originals in hopes of catching up. Others also continue to try and attract their niche audiences.
Maybe bundling is the future.
6. Streaming services working with digital influencers
A fan poses with a cardboard cutout of Miranda Sings at the Netflix Lounge at VidCon.Image: netflixIn the last year, the streaming services have all been paying closer attention to digital influencers.
Hulu acquired the rights to AwesomenessTV's new horror series Freakish. It also picked up exclusive U.S. streaming video on-demand rights to two feature-length documentaries from Awesomeness Films: Tyler Oakley's Snervous and mockumentary/concert special Janoskians: Untold and Untrue. Already, the platform is home to YouTuber Freddie Wong's Rocketjump: The Show. The platform is also backing Wong's new scripted sci-fi series.
Now Netflix is also collaborating more with digital influencers. At VidCon, the Los Gatos-based streaming giant attracted thousands of attendees with its lounge, which promoted its line-up of family and kids shows including Fuller House. There was also a photobooth promoting the upcoming series Haters Back Off, which follows YouTuber Miranda Sings (whose real name is Colleen Ballinger).
One day ahead of VidCon, Netflix also announced it has tapped Vine and YouTube star Cameron Dallas for a new unscripted series.
The overlap between digital creators and streaming services will only continue to grow.
7. The growth of the Con
General view of the atmosphere at the 7th Annual VidCon at at Anaheim Convention Center on June 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.Image: WireImageThis year, VidCon attracted a whopping 25,000 attendees, the most to date.
So it came as no surprise when John and Hank Green, a.k.a. Vlogbrothers and co-fuonders of the conference, announced a global expansion.
The conference is headed overseas to Europe and Australia. VidCon Europe will debut April 8-9, 2017 in Amsterdam, while VidCon Australia will launch September 9-10, 2017 in Melbourne.
The news underscores both the growth of online video and the popularity of the conference itself, which just wrapped up its seventh year.
8. Copyright problems
Fair use has arguably become the hot button issue among YouTubers, especially in the last year. Many feel YouTube has a broken copyright system, because it legally protects itself but puts users at risk.
In June, pickup artist (Matt Hosseinzadeh, or MattHossZone, aka "The Bold Guy," 175,000 subscribers) garnered backlash after claiming Ethan and Hila Klein (aka H3H3 Productions, 2 million subscribers across two channels) used too much footage from one of his "Bold Guy" videos in their takedown. Team Internet labeled Hosseinzadeh the "most hated guy on the Internet."
Earlier this year, The Fine Brothers also ignited a lot of hate after announcing they were going to trademark their "react" reaction videos. The Internet lost its collective mind, and the Fine Bros. lost 2 million subscribers. As a result, the creative duo apologized — and discontinued the program.
YouTube has its own content detection system known as Content ID, which helps rights holders to identify content that is comprised partially or entirely of their intellectual property and manage or monetize it. But complaints over how YouTube handles copyright as a whole have become increasingly common, and YouTube says it's been working to improve its support system.
In November, YouTube pledged financial and legal resources to help combat unwarranted copyright claims and takedown notices. In April, YouTube also announced it will roll out a new system that will help creators earn revenue even as a Content ID claim is being disputed.
But until there are more efforts made, Content ID disputes will remain a big part of the digital content world's conversation.
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