Netflix’s ‘Icarus’ wins the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature


It was a quiet Oscar ceremony for the big streaming services, but Netflix’s doping film Icarus (directed by Bryan Fogel) did win the award for best documentary feature.

The Big Sick, distributed by Amazon Studios, was nominated for best original screenplay, while Netflix’s Mudbound was nominated for best adapted screenplay, cinematography (amazingly, Rachel Morrison is the first woman nominated in this category), original song and supporting actress — but both films are going home empty-handed.

On the one hand, this still seems like a respectful performance for companies that only started producing and distributing their own movies a few years ago. (Netflix, in particular, faces an uphill battle, given its unwillingness to allow its movies to screen in theaters first.)

On the other hand, Amazon did better last year, when Manchester by the Sea won awards for best actor and original screenplay, while The Salesman won for best foreign language film.

Also worth noting: Indiegogo got a shoutout tonight when The Silent Child (which was crowdfunded on the site) won for best live action short.

Among the other films we’ve written about on TechCrunch, Blade Runner 2049 won for best cinematography and best visual effects, while The Shape of Water won for best director, best production design, best original score — and the big one, best picture.

Featured Image: Netflix

Come to TechCrunch’s party and SXSW panels


TechCrunch invites you to our annual Crunch By Crunch Fest party in Austin, Texas. RSVP to come meet our writers while enjoying free drinks and musical performances by live electronic pop wizards Autograf, digital RnB drummer Mobley, angelic songwriter MIEARS, and yacht dance DJs Glassio. It’s going down from noon to 4pm, Sunday March 11th. We’re teaming up with Splash to take over The Sidewinder’s indoor and outdoor bars, just three blocks from the convention center at 715 Red River St @ E.7th next to Stubb’s.

RSVP here for your free ticket (required for entry, first-come first-serve, please only sign up if you’ll come)

Autograf will play live set at our party just like this

A squad of TechCrunch’s editorial team will be there to hear what you’re working on. Dance on the outdoor patio or escape the sun inside with chill beats at our second stage. We’ll have a cash bar plus free drinks while they last from Hornitos, Bud Lite, and Maker’s Mark thanks to our sponsors Splash, TravelBank, Zendesk, LimeBike, Atypical Sounds, and The Bosco. Last year 2000 people came through what’s become one of SXSW Interactive’s most iconic day parties, so don’t miss out!

Check out TechCrunch’s playlist of the top tracks from Autograf, Mobley, MIEARS, and Glassio, plus peep their videos below. Don’t forget to RSVP. And later in the night, Splash is throwing another party at The Sidewinder with performances by Leisure Cruise and more.

TechCrunch’s SXSW Panels

Our writers are speaking on a bunch of awesome panels throughout SXSW. Come learn about the future of  AI, VR, journalism, marketing, and engineering:

Discussing The 2018 Edelman Trust In Tech Barometer Study with Josh Constine – Saturday 3/10, 11am-12:30pm at Edelman Austin at 506 Congress Ave #300

What Mobile Means for the World’s Biggest Brands with Fitz Tepper – Saturday 3/10, 12:30-1:30pm at Hilton Austin Downtown Salon H

Codeasaurus: Keeping an Edge With Old Tech with Ron Miller – Sunday 3/11, 5-6pm at JW Marriott Salon 6

Will AI Change the Future of Creativity? with Mike Butcher – Wednesday 3/14, 12:30-1:30pm at Fairmont Manchester EFG

Journalists Shattering the Business Status Quo with Megan Rose Dickey – Wednesday 3/14, 2-3pm at JW Marriott Room 406

The Next Phase of VR: Moving to MR with Lucas Matney – Thursday 3/15, 2-3pm at JW Marriott Salon 3-4

Party Performers

Austin is all about live music, so we picked Autograf because they can make you dance using real instruments. Get ready for keytars, lasers, and their hits like “Sleepless in NYC”, “Dreams” and “You Might Be” which have a combined 10 million plays on Spotify. With pulsing Avicii-style synths, Autograf has done remixes for Lorde and Pharrell, and now they’re coming to light up TechCrunch’s party.

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Mobley‘s soulful singing and crisp drumming give him an enveloping sound for just a one-man band. Part Frank Ocean, part Chet Faker, Mobley experiments with a range of genres to convey confidence and vulnerability. You’ll be humming him in your head the rest of the week.

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MIEARS brings ghostly, hushed songwriting into the modern age with soaring voice, shimmering keyboards, and slick production. Dig Chvrches or Purity Ring? You’ll feel right at home with MIEARS, especially if you’re looking to vibe out more than rock out.

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Glassio nails the sun-drenched, laid-back, never-too-serious attitude of Austin with their stylish, tropical house music. We expect the dance floor to bristle with electricity as their bassy anthems fill The Sidewinder. Put down the tacos for a second and prepare to move your feet.

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Here’s that Crunch By Crunch Fest ticket link one last time

YouTube will remove ads and downgrade discoverability of channels posting offensive videos


After barring Logan Paul earlier today from serving ads on his video channel, YouTube has now announced a more formal and wider set of sanctions it’s prepared to level on any creator that starts to post videos that are harmful to viewers, others in the YouTube community, or advertisers.

As it has done with Paul (on two occasions now), the site said it will remove monetization options on the videos, specifically access to advertising programs. But on top of that, it’s added in a twist that will be particularly impactful given that a lot of a video’s popularity rests on it being discoverable:

“We may remove a channel’s eligibility to be recommended on YouTube, such as appearing on our home page, trending tab or watch next,” Ariel Bardin, Vice President of Product Management at YouTube, writes in a blog post.

The full list of steps, as outlined by YouTube:

1. Premium Monetization Programs, Promotion and Content Development Partnerships. We may remove a channel from Google Preferred and also suspend, cancel or remove a creator’s YouTube Original.

2. Monetization and Creator Support Privileges. We may suspend a channel’s ability to serve ads, ability to earn revenue and potentially remove a channel from the YouTube Partner Program, including creator support and access to our YouTube Spaces.

3. Video Recommendations. We may remove a channel’s eligibility to be recommended on YouTube, such as appearing on our home page, trending tab or watch next.

The changes are significant not just because they could really hit creators where it hurts, but because they also point to a real shift for the platform. YouTube has long been known as a home for edgy videos filled with pranks and potentially offensive content, made in the name of comedy or freedom of expression.

Now, the site is turning over a new leaf, using a large team of human curators and AI to track the content of what’s being posted, and in cases where videos fall afoul of YouTube’s advertising guidelines, or pose a threat to its wider community, they have a much bigger chance of falling afoul of YouTube’s rules and getting dinged.

“When one creator does something particularly blatant—like conducts a heinous prank where people are traumatized, promotes violence or hate toward a group, demonstrates cruelty, or sensationalizes the pain of others in an attempt to gain views or subscribers—it can cause lasting damage to the community, including viewers, creators and the outside world,” writes Bardin. “That damage can have real-world consequences not only to users, but also to other creators, leading to missed creative opportunities, lost revenue and serious harm to your livelihoods. That’s why it’s critical to ensure that the actions of a few don’t impact the 99.9 percent of you who use your channels to connect with your fans or build thriving businesses.”

The moves come at a time when the site is making a much more concerted effort to raise the overall quality of what is posted and shared and viewed by millions of people every day, after repeated accusations that it has facilitated a range of bad actors, from people peddling propaganda to influence elections, to those who are posting harmful content aimed at children, to simply allowing cruel, tasteless and unusual videos to get posted in the name of comedy.

The issue seemed to reach a head with Paul, who posted a video in Japan in January that featured a suicide victim, and has since followed up with more questionable content presented as innocuous fun.

As I pointed out earlier today, even though he makes hundreds of thousands of dollars from ads (the exact amount is unknown and has only been estimated by different analytics companies) removing ads was only a partial sanction, since Paul monetizes in other ways, including merchandising. So it’s interesting to see YouTube adding more details and ways of sanctioning creators, that will hit at their very virality.

As in the case of Paul, YouTube makes a point of the fact that the majority of people who post content on its platform will not be impacted by today’s announcement because their content is not on the wrong side of acceptable. These sorts of sanctions, it said, will be applied as a last resort and will often not permanent but will last until the creator removes or alters content. It will be worth watching how and if this impacts video content overall on the platform.

YouTube partners with Kevin Durant to expand original sports programming


YouTube announced today that it’s enlisted the help of basketball star Kevin Durant in a bid to expand original sports content. The Golden State Warriors small forward and business partner Rich Kleiman have signed on to develop programming centered around Durant and fellow professional athletes under the umbrella of their Thirty Five Media video business.

Durant’s interest in investing turned to tech when he moved to the Bay Area to play for The Warriors in 2016. As Durant and Kleiman put it during an appearance onstage at Disrupt last September, “We’d never have been introduced to a drone startup in Oklahoma City.”

According to Kleiman, Durant began to take YouTube more seriously after meeting Neal Mohan at a Ben Horowitz-hosted party in honor of the basketball all-star’s 28th birthday. YouTube’s head of product introduced him to the platform’s potential for content delivery beyond the standard highlight reels he was accustomed to watching on the site. 

“Kevin always wanted to produce original content and wanted to produce shows, but we didn’t realize what direction it would take until then,” says Kleiman.

Durant’s channel blossomed during a self-imposed sabbatical from social media after calling out his former team on Twitter. 

In the intervening months, Durant’s YouTube channel has grown into a destination for basketball fans, giving the player a direct venue to interact with fans through Q&As and offer up documentary-style productions aimed at offering insight into the life of an all-star professional basketball player. In less than a year, it’s racked up north of 21 million views.

Outside of the incredible relationship that we’ve developed with the team at YouTube,” Durant told TechCrunch, “it’s a huge destination for video content where sports fans — including myself — spend a lot of time, and we really wanted to create content where fans are most likely to find and engage with it.”

Durant and Thirty Five Media began reaching out to fellow players prior to the deal. Warriors teammate JaVale McGee was given his own show on Durant’s channel. Parking Lot Chronicles is a play on the traditional post-game interview that finds the center moderating conversations with fellow Warriors outside of Oracle Arena.

That series will continue to be hosted on Durant’s channel, along with an upcoming show featuring actor/basketball super fan, Michael Rapaport. “We’re looking to build Kevin’s channel as a real network for himself and trying to encourage more athletes to look at it as a hub for their content, and look at it as their own Bleacher Report or ESPN,” says Kleiman. “And we’ll look to produce content to live on all of these different channels.”

Kleiman says the content for the channels will be a mix of high-production values from Thirty Five Media and more direct, raw video, depending on the needs and desires of a given partner athlete.

Durant, for his part, plans to remain involved in the undertaking. “I will have an active role both in my channel and in working with other athletes,” he explains. “I’ve seen what resonates with fans and I know how to achieve that while focusing on my job as an athlete first and foremost, and I’m excited to help others be able to do the same thing.”

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ returns to Hulu on April 25 (and here’s a new trailer)


The first season of The Handmaid’s Tale has been a home run for Hulu — the series has been embraced by awards voters, and it was one of the streaming service’s most-watched dramas last year.

This weekend, Hulu has been working to build up anticipation for the 13-episode second season, with the release of the first images and the announcement that the show will return sometime in April. Now there’s a “first look” trailer, as well as an actual premiere date: April 25, when Hulu will air two episodes, followed by a new episode every week.

The Handmaid’s Tale was adapted by television writer Bruce Miller from the novel by Margaret Atwood, and it stars Elisabeth Moss as Offred, a woman trying survive in an oppressive society called Gilead.

The second season is expected to go beyond the plot of the novel, exploring the world beyond Gilead. Marisa Tomei will be one of the guest stars. And Moss says, “Arguably, it’s darker than season one — if that’s possible.”

Here’s that new trailer, which leans on the increasingly familiar “classic pop song, but slow and sad” formula — but the imagery is grim enough that it still works.

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Hulu’s announcements at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour weren’t just about its big show. The service also announced that it’s picking up a six-episode adaption of Joseph Heller’s classic novel Catch-22, with George Clooney starring, directing and executive producing.

And this isn’t about a Hulu Original, but still: If you’re an ER fan, you’ll be glad to know that all 331 episodes are now streaming.