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Digital Digest 3

Don't start broadcasting on a sinking ship

Al Jazeera America will shut down in April this year, report The New York Times amongst others, after the Qatari news channel failed to take off with American audiences. Launched less than three years ago and hiring over 700 journalists and supplementary staff, the founding president Kate O'Brian(formerly VP of ABC News) said they would"take full advantage of[[their] extraordinary reporting resources](http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/08/2013820104744903852.html)". But this advantage never materialised in terms of viewers. The channel was posting 20,000-40,000 at its peak, 10x less than comparable audiences on industry leading networks Fox News and CNN.

CEO Al Anstey said that Al Jazeera will continue to reach US homes following the channel's closure via more digital means. This likely means an expansion of the widely successful studioless AJ+, which recently announced it had reached 2.2 billion views of its highly shareable content on Facebook. The digital-only service with compelling stories, has covered the Syrian refugee crisis on the ground in great detail alongside breaking news and feature pieces. Note the titles throughout for the silent video treatment.

Snapchat's'mom moment'

Snapchat, the intimately personal social network, has a big problem. There's no way to discover new users. Some are broadcasting to enormous audiences, such as beauty blogger Ingrid Nilsen, who is due to interview Obama tomorrow at least partially on the platform, but tweets like that are the only way to find her. Without a public directory, Wired are reporting that advertising agencies are having trouble buying in to it. Without a way to promote their brand's accounts, the advertisers aren't interested. And without a way to find and build an audience, maybe normal users will turn away too.

The question is will the network do this before its heyday ends. Recent growth figures suggest that Snapchat is about to have its'mom moment', the point at which a medium passes niche and becomes mainstream, driving away some of its early core audience. ComScore say that Snapchat's audience amongst 25-34 year olds has grown 69 percent in the last year, and almost 13% of those between the ages of 35 and 44 are now Snapping. The White House recently joined, if that isn't indication enough of the network's maturity.

ESPN starts covering video games

For years those that play video games professionally for prize pools that are now in the tens of millions of dollars annually, have wondered who will become the ESPN of esports(electronic sports). Will the answer be, in fact, ESPN?

The sports network recently announced it had hired experienced esport journalists Rod'Slasher' Breslau and Tyler“Fionn” Erzberger from rival mainstream esports publisher TheScore to kick off its esports section.

Esports is estimated to be worth an annual $465 million globally in 2017. Amazon recently paid $1 billion to purchase Twitch.tv, the top esports broadcaster, which combined with its Asian competitors, attracted over 14 million concurrent viewers to the League of Legends World Final last year in Berlin. BBC3 even streamed the tournament online. Also in 2014, The New York Timesfront page was taken over in a feature on The International, an annual DOTA2 tournament that this year will have a prize pool of over $18,000,000, more than most tennis championships.

(Commissions to me please)

Also in the news

  • BuzzFeed was censured by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK this week, after one of its famous sponsored advertorials was found to not be obviously enough an ad. The Guardian report that the now-removed piece for Dylon Colour Catchers was misleading despite strong labelling on the home page because the ASA deemed this to not be the primary route to the ad.
  • Serial is going biweekly, report The New York Times, after their second season failed to reach the fever-pitch of the first. The'one story told week by week' will now be every two weeks as Julie Snyder, an executive producer, described the podcast as taking longer to report than anticipated. The first episode of season two was downloaded 3.4 million times in its first week.
  • Hate the 24/7 news cycle? Tired of following Twitter? Delayed Gratification magazine may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Described as the'slow journalism project' the bimonthly publication revisits the news after it's been reported, with around 20 long-form stories per issue. It costs $52 a year and has over 5,000 subscribers, report DigiDay.