LG Partners with Ficto on Shows Designed For Its New Dual-Screen Smartphone

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

LG Partners with Ficto on Shows Designed For Its New Dual-Screen Smartphone

Ficto, a cross between Quibi, Netflix and a video game that is set to launch next month, got a big boost this week when LG announced the app would come preloaded on 1.3 million of its new double-screened LG Wing smartphones.

The deal should help Ficto stand out from the competition by (literally) putting it in people's hands.

The mobile streaming service set to launch in October will focus on shows that leverage the smartphone's unique features, bringing to them a heavy dose of interactivity and social engagement. It also offers some brands, like LG, product placement and a degree of creative control in their shows. "Snoop 16," an interactive gameshow hosted by Long Beach native Snoop Dogg, will debut as one of the streamer's original programs.

Mike Esola is the chief executive of L.A.-based Fiction Riot, a.k.a. Ficto. He told dot.LA that talks with LG began about a year ago. Both companies thought the other would be a good match.

"(LG Wing) is best utilized by apps that exhibit premium-level content on the main screen and interactive functionality features on the second screen," Esola said.

In exchange for the preloads, Ficto will embed LG products into some of its programming. LG will be paying for the product placements as well, a revenue stream that will likely be key to the free service's growth. In future phases of the partnership, LG will also include the app on other phones and televisions, Esola said.

Ficto has had about 60,000 users during its beta period. It will launch next month with dozens of licensed shows and seven originals. The latter group is where its mobile- and social-oriented content will predominate.

"Snoop 16" episodes, for example, will center around a March Madness-style bracket, except the competitors will be various items like rappers or cars; viewers will fill out and submit their own brackets, and if they match Snoop's, they will receive an LG Wing smartphone giveaway.

Streaming service Ficto is creating shows with LG's new smart phone in mind.Courtesy of Ficto

Esola acknowledged there is no guarantee the new phones will sell. And getting the app integrated with LG Wing's swiveling second screen required investment.

"It's not easy to adapt to a new form factor," Esola said, referring to the phone's shape and size. "Apps don't (usually) spend the time [to adapt] until they know. We took the risk."

In doing so, LG is betting that Ficto can break through in the crowded streaming field. It will aim to do so largely through interactivity, which Esola has referred to as a form of "engaging and empowering" viewers.

The ability to share Ficto content across social media is a departure from fellow mobile-oriented streamer Quibi, which did not allow users to share content clips. After a disappointing launch, the L.A.-based company recently added that feature, among others.

By contrast, Ficto has built-in technology to enable sharing clips over social media while complying with copyright law. Ficto will also provide creators with some analytics about the performance of their shows, something that Esola says many streaming companies, namely Netflix, do not do.

Ficto has raised $5 million since it incorporated in March 2018.

About 80% of the company's revenue currently comes from licensing shows to foreign markets, which allows apps in those markets to use Ficto's shows and essentially present them as their own.

The company also makes revenue from brand integrations, an area that is expected to grow as its user count climbs. Such arrangements allow a company like Anheuser Busch to "sponsor" a season or episode in exchange for a degree of creative control and product placement.

Ficto also licenses its proprietary technology for functionality like e-commerce integration and data analytics.


Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

Read moreShow less

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

Read moreShow less

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

Read moreShow less