If you watch TV programs via VOD from your pay-TV operator, then you've probably had one or both of two curious experiences I've had: either the same, untargeted ad plays repeatedly at the breaks, or no ad (and therefore no monetization for the content provider) plays at all. With over 600 million monthly VOD views occurring these days, the lack of dynamic, targeted ad insertion in VOD diminishes the user experience and leaves lots more money on the table.
There are multiple reasons to explain all of this, but one of the main ones is that there are very hard technology problems involved to solve it, as the pay-TV infrastructure (notably the set-top boxes) vary widely in their capabilities. Creating a platform that runs across pay-TV operators' different infrastructure, at scale, to enable advertising, has been a very tall mountain to climb. Now, after years of hard work and investment, BlackArrow, the company that decided to address the situation, looks like it has finally arrived at the summit.
In this interview at the recent Cable Show, BlackArrow's CEO Dean Denhart explains that the company now has agreements covering 30 million subscribers, with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Rogers, which are all rolling it out. He walks me through a handful of slides that explain exactly how the BlackArrow system works and the progress programmers, advertisers and pay-TV operators are making. And importantly he discusses how the online video and on-demand TV worlds will converge over time. Watch the interview (15 minutes, 18 seconds)