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Recent Highlights of Drupal in Media and Entertainment

When people ask me about the last year in my role as a director in our media entertainment and publishing practice, I tell them it was “Ludicrously busy”. The pace is furious as we help major media companies transition to Acquia and Drupal, most times away from custom, in house developed web content management (WCM) platforms. Before I get to the trends that will drive media companies to adopt new WCM platforms and other digital media technologies in 2015, let’s look at highlights from 2014 with the use of Drupal and Acquia in the industry. I added links to webinars and case studies so you can dig deeper on any of these stories and they will open in new windows if you click through.

Earlier in my career I was a radio producer for Clear Channel and The Wall Street Journal Radio Network, so one of the most interesting transitions for me to watch was at Emmis Communications. Emmis, a major U.S. radio broadcaster, took 20 digital properties and moved them to Acquia Cloud Site Factory, including digital for well-known radio stations such as Hot97 in New York and Power106 in Los Angeles. At Emmis New York, I had the privilege of sitting in on Drupal training with the content production teams. It was quite fascinating to see how production has evolved since my time in radio, as it now also includes everything beyond traditional broadcast including content development for YouTube, social channels like Twitter and Facebook, and live experiential events. The flexibility of the new Emmis platform on Site Factory to allows them to manage all these types of multi media content, and create new interactive content types if necessary. Also Emmis can access deep analytics to measure audience reaction to digital content in relation to their live broadcast programming.


Emmis Digital's fully responsive digital property for New York City hip-hop FM radio station, Hot 97.

The largest media site in terms of audience size to move to Acquia in 2014 is Weather.com. Comscore noted it to have almost 84 million unique visitors in August 2014, across all digital platforms including desktop and mobile, ranking it the 18th largest US digital media property. The Weather Channel, their digital agency partner Mediacurrent, and Acquia teamed up for a webinar to discuss why they chose Drupal and how the three partners made the massive digital launch possible.

Warner Bros. Entertainment is already using Drupal at their DC Entertainment division, and this year the company rolled out a new WarnerBros.com on Drupal for their movie division, moving away from a custom Java CMS. Warner Bros. Pictures was the 3rd largest grossing studio in 2014, with $1.5 billion in gross revenues from 31 movie titles at the box office according to Box Office Mojo. Meanwhile, a major TV network launched their flagship site on Drupal this year – Fox.com. That’s a brand new use of Drupal at Fox Television.

New Fox.com on Drupal

2014 saw the launch of a new Fox.com, powered by Drupal

NBCUniversal continues to roll out new properties for their media brands on Drupal. At Drupalcon Austin 2014, NBC News technology team, MSNBC editorial team and Lullabot discussed in depth how they built the new site from the ground up including complex integrations with other digital media services, such as the NewsVine social news platform.

Jimmy Fallon took over the Tonight Show early in 2014 and NBC needed to quickly get a new digital experience built for the brand. The user experience of the new Tonight Show site is quite impressive: it allows fans to endlessly scroll through individual shows, and access to video clips from each show date. The technology that enables users to flip through all the content is Node.js. Digital agencies Lullabot and Four Kitchens discussed how they launched the site with Node.js, and other technologies including Drupal for content management.

Another notable NBCUniversal site launch on Drupal is the new Telemundo.com:

New Telemundo Site

NBC's new Telemundo digital property launched fall of 2014

Also at Drupalcon US, Time Inc shared their plans to move all 24 of their magazine titles to their own “Digital Content Management System” or DCMS as they call it internally. The panel was aptly named “Time Inc’s Big Move to Drupal”, as at the core of DCMS is Drupal. Time Inc had been spun off by Time Warner in 2013, which meant they could no longer rely on Time Warner’s custom built CMS systems for their brands. For the editorial teams at Time Inc, the change to Drupal meant a path forward to develop a brand new content production workflow and editorial dashboard with features like publishing from mobile devices and deep audience analytics.


Time Inc.'s DCMS Editorial Interface, as designed by Appnovation.

For more than 20 years, Insomniac Events has been the world’s largest producer of dance music events. Their flagship festival, the Electronic Daisy Carnival (EDC), this year was the world’s largest music festival, with over 400,000 attendees each day and impact on the local economy of Las Vegas of over $330 million. Insomniac launched their main brand page on Drupal this year, which takes the site beyond just a portal for events and ticket buying and adds a deep library of multi-media content related to the talent and music they host. Also on their Drupal platform, Insomniac now has individual event pages for their many festivals, like the following site for EDC Las Vegas


Electricdaisycarnival.com offers individual event pages for each city edition of this festival brand

Earlier in the post I mentioned a few digital agencies well known for their work in Drupal within the media and entertainment industry including Lullabot, Appnovation, MediaCurrent, and Four Kitchens. Phase 2 also should be mentioned for working with Lullabot on the MSNBC and Telemundo projects, as well as Time Inc.'s DCMS. I spent a good part of my time in 2014 identifying digital agencies who may not yet have the biggest Drupal development teams but that do have an excellent track record of digital work in the media industry. My goal was to partner with these firms and help them build their expertise in Drupal. One successful result with this focus resulted in our work with the LA based, entertainment focused agency Trailer Park Digital. The agency collaborated with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the parent organization behind the Oscars® to launch a new Oscars.org on Acquia and Drupal. The site includes 50,000 photos and videos including 86 years of Oscars® highlights and exclusive content from the Academy's library and archives. Gizmodo called the new site "a treasure trove of Hollywood history." The LA Times described the refreshed look as "a clean, minimalist design, with simpler navigation than its predecessor." In 2015, we look forward to identifying more partners who have a media industry focus and growing their Drupal practices.

Video: Oscars.org site review

This post was focused heavily on U.S. media industry and where Drupal is growing within it. There are plenty of highlights from Europe, Asia, Australia and beyond, but I will leave you with two.

In Europe, at Drupalcon Amsterdam, BBC Worldwide discussed their new site on Acquia and Drupal for their Good Food brand.

FoxTel, a joint venture between News Corporation and Australian telecom company Telstra, launched their new video on demand service, Presto, on Drupal.


Initially movie focused, Australia's Presto.com.au will soon also launch TV shows on demand.

In my next post, I’ll highlight the incumbent trends in media and entertainment that are driving firms to either migrate from existing digital platforms or build new experiences in 2015. I will build on my webinar 2014, “Why Media and Entertainment Firms Are Thinking Like Technology Companies”, where I covered many of those driving forces.

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