NewFront News and Views: Oath Doubles Down On Mobile Content

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
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AOL and Yahoo, two of the Digital Content NewFronts’ high-profile participants over the years, are now Oath, a single entity owned by Verizon.  In keeping with an AOL tradition, Oath held its first NewFront last Tuesday on Pier 26 at Hudson River Park, and it made for one of the more impressive environments of NewFront week.

Venue:  Pier 26 at Hudson River Park, close to Battery Park City.  In recent years, AOL’s location choices hit a solid bullseye (an outdoor fair in the middle of South Street Seaport) or, using Let’s Make A Deal terminology, a zonk (the Brooklyn Navy Yard during a downpour, compounded by transportation nightmares).  With Pier 26, remodeled from one end to the other, Oath came through with a bullseye comeback.  A building with great skyline views on the roof served as home base on the south end of the pier, where guests were welcomed with appetizers and cocktails.  A tunnel with programming clips on each side led to the main stage near the northern end, with a variety of food booths on either side and plenty of room to walk around.  Grade: 5 Jacks

Presentation:  Divided into five acts, with each act devoted to a specific programming category or brand.  Yahoo! Sports was the focus of act one, Yahoo! News act two and so on.  Elements of each act were consistent -- a mix of video clips featuring new series, celebrity or host testimonials, and a dance number at the start or midway through.  Weaving through all five acts:  Oath’s commitment to short-form content available mostly on smartphones or tablets.  Host Jamie Foxx (pictured at top and below left) emphasized that point by inviting crowd members to take out their smartphones and record segments, or text reactions to what they viewed.  A house disk-jockey played musical sets between acts.  Grade: 4 Jacks

News:  Former U.S. women’s soccer superstar Abby Wambach will host a six-part Soccer Moms miniseries on Yahoo! Sports.  Basketball champion turned media entrepreneur LeBron James has a documentary titledI Promise School in development there.  Oath’s Huffington Post brand will premiere HuffPost Reports and HuffPost Life segments this fall.  Girl Power Live will be one of Makers’ new fall attractions.  Oath also will be one of several digital carriers of Offscript, Foxx’s new celebrity encounter series.  Grade: 3.5 Jacks

Host:  Jamie Foxx is a clear contender for best Upfront or NewFront host of 2018.  He kept the energy level high on stage and engaged the off-stage audience at every opportunity.  Now comes a disclosure: One of those opportunities was having this columnist come up and sing “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel, karaoke style.  This is the second time I’ve put in stage time in more than a decade of covering Upfronts and NewFronts.  Have a hunch my warbling will live long somewhere on YouTube and social media.  Grade: 5 Jacks

Star Time:  Dance number after dance number made the night, thanks to outstanding choreography that made full use of the pier.  Grade: 4 Jacks

Cuisine:  A wide range of spaces to nosh around, from pretzel and steamed bun stands to all those appetizers at home base.  Best eats: chicken scallion steamed bun and wild mushroom risotto balls. Worst eat: an extremely rare lamb slider.  Grade: 3.5 Jacks (Note: Cuisine ratings do not figure in the overall Jacks score.)

Data Insight:  Huffington Post gets one million video views per month.  Grade: 2.5 Jacks

Innovative Opportunity:  Development of an immersive virtual reality programming studio, incorporating 5G technology.  Content creator and advertiser involvement welcomed.  Grade: 3.5 Jacks

Overall Grade: 4 Jacks  A impressive effort from layout to execution, all under one of nicest spring evenings weather-wise in New York City this year. 

Our Jacks scorecard in review:  5 Jacks – Excellent, 4 Jacks -- Very Good, 3 Jacks – Good, 2 Jacks – Fair, 1 Jack – Poor, 0 Jacks -- Don’t go there

Photo credits: Getty Images for Oath

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