COVID Production Problems Drag Deepfakes into Ads

An Allstate ad that aired with “The Last Dance”, a documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, featured a 90s-era clip of SportsCenter newscaster Kenny Mayne making startlingly accurate predictions about our current world.

Though it looks real, the ad is doctored. Old footage was combined with the mouth and voice of the current Kenny Mayne to create a realistic portrayal.

While this is not the first time the ad industry has used deepfake technology to create ads, this may be part of a larger trend as advertisers explore ways to create content as they face limited production possibilities during the COVID-19 lock-down, the New York Times reports.

A young Kenny Mayne, left, merged with an older Kenny Mayne, right, in a recent State Farm commercial.

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1251556094960234496?s=20

Why it’s hot: 

Like many COVID trends, deepfake ads may outlast the pandemic if they prove successful because they can be produced quickly and inexpensively.

NBA and ESPN bring lofi games of HORSE to the fans via Zoom

The NBA has given basketball fans something to hold on to while the season has been cancelled due to Coronavirus. Using Zoom, ESPN and the NBA put on a HORSE tournament with players shooting hoops from their own back yards or at local courts.

The viewership is not as high as games, but it’s still around half a million for many of the matches and the 1 – 1 nature of the game could provide a wealth of content to keep fans engaged until the next season begins.

From Fast Company:

For the NBA, which suspended its 2019-2020 season on March 11, the challenge has been to keep fans interested and engaged.

Since then, the league has launched a number of new content initiatives, all under the umbrella of “NBA Together.” Those include Instagram Live sessions with star players, a new interview stream with broadcaster Ernie Johnson on the league’s Twitter feed, posting practice drills for young players stuck at home, new programming on NBA TV that has players commenting on classic games, and more.

But last Sunday, the league took its experimentation a step further, teaming with ESPN to take the big leagues to the playground with a televised pandemic version of H-O-R-S-E. The tournament started with eight players that span current stars from the NBA and WNBA, as well as a few retired legends, and was whittled down to four semifinalists playing for the crown on Thursday. Aside from bragging rights among the players, as part of the game league sponsor State Farm is donating more than $200,000 to COVID-19 response efforts.

Paul Benedict, the NBA’s associate VP of broadcasting content management, said, “I think it’s forcing everyone, not just in sports and entertainment, to approach things differently given the limitations, and to approach things more efficiently,” says Benedict. “The countless number of Zoom calls we’ve been on, you just have a different mindset when you approach collaborative efforts like these. H-O-R-S-E was a scaled-down production in some ways, but a massive effort in others that required quick thinking, split-second decision-making, and a lot of cooperation across the board. I think we’re going to come out as a league better from this, stronger, and more collaborative. It’s a great building block.”

Why it’s hot:

It’s interesting that the Zoom format gives a more intimate experience with the players than what you’d get with a typical ESPN broadcast. How will this change what fans expect of players and of ESPN content in the long run?

This format gives players the opportunity (or obligation) to connect on a different level with their fans, one where personality is perhaps taking on a bigger role.

Source: Fast Company

espn brings a different kind of air to nba finals…

To promote its live stream of the recent NBA Finals, ESPN pulled an interesting stunt in Manhattan – Airdropping images with text connecting what people were doing with watching the finals.

Why It’s Hot

I’m not sure it is either real, or hot, but what’s seemingly interesting and clever is the fact that they utilized an overlooked iOS feature and used it to personalized their message on a one-to-one basis.

[Source]

ESPN Goes All-In On Fantasy

ESPN Fantasy sports app is driving a massive chunk of the network’s digital traffic, and Disney executives are looking to replicate that success for other networks.

  • ESPN Fantasy produces more log-in events than any other application in the Walt Disney company.
  • On NFL Sundays, ESPN Fantasy accounts for 53% of all minutes consumed across ESPN Digital platforms.
  • To date, Fantasy has engaged more 20 million unique users in 2017. The network gets roughly 90-100 million combined monthly uniques on average, per comScore.

The success of ESPN Fantasy has the attention of ABC executives. Last year, Disney launched a fantasy league game for ABC’s “Bachelorette” to help broaden the Fantasy reach to women and found enormous success. The two Bachelorette Fantasy League games were played by more than 700,000 users, 75% of whom were women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why It’s Hot:

ESPN and its parent company, Disney, are experimenting with online offerings that go beyond traditional TV content. They are beginning to see the value in providing additional services that pair well with their owned televised content and their partners content (ABC, NFL, NBA, MLB, etc), both of which will drive people online capturing attention on TV, mobile, and possibly future subscription products.

Cutting the Cord is Getting Closer

As we all know, the CES conference has been going on this week.  One of the unnveilings that happened caught my eye.  My husband and I have discussed “cutting the cord”, but being the rabid Philadelphia sport fan that he is, there was absolutely no way his sports channels were getting cut out.  And then comes DISH.  Dish, whose funny Rob Lowe commercials have caught our eyes recently, has done it.  They’ve made the deal… to create an app that costs only $20 a month.  And none other than ESPN… and other well known channels, are going to be part of it.  This is a game changer.

Why It’s Hot 

This is going to change the way that people buy television.  Sports have been the reason why many people have not cut the cord yet.  With a less expensive option… SPORTS, and well known channels to boot, there are going to be many changes in the television industry in the coming months/years.

Source: http://www.digitaltrends.com/ces/top-tech-of-ces-2015-award-winners/