FreeWheel, the video ad management and monetization provider, is announcing this morning that it has landed Spanish-language broadcaster Univision as its latest customer. In the past year, Univision has become one of the most active broadcasters involved with online video, signing a deal to move a large amount of its content to YouTube for distribution, offering full episodes of its telenovelas at a recently-created web site, "Novela y Series," launching a video app for BlackBerry users, and of course most recently, streaming 10 million+ hours of live World Cup games on UnivisionFutbol.com
For FreeWheel, Univision follows Turner, Warner Bros., VEVO, Discovery, CBS and others on FreeWheel's customer roster. Note that Univision had not yet deployed FreeWheel for its UnivisionFutbol.com site but that FreeWheel was inserting ads in ESPN3.com's World Cup online streaming which generated 7.4 million unique viewers and 15.7 million hours viewed. I talked to co-CEO and co-founder Doug Knopper earlier this week, who shared some recent statistics from the World Cup action and discussed how FreeWheel is scaling up to better serve ads in live, as well as on-demand, online video.
During the World Cup, FreeWheel dynamically served up to 64,000 simultaneous ad requests for ESPN3.com, which Doug said is 50 times higher than FreeWheel typically serves across its entire network. He further believes that this is the largest live event that has had dynamic ad insertion. The benefit of dynamically inserting is that ads can be optimized for certain audiences and also can more specifically follow advertiser policies such as product exclusivity in a pod.
Freewheel is seeing more interest in live online events among its customers (for example VEVO broadcast a live pre-World Cup concert) and as a result is enhancing its capabilities in this area. Of course World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events, but FreeWheel is also inserting ads in other sports like NASCAR races for Turner and in baseball games for MLB. As I wrote recently, sports continues to be the shining star of online video. While there will periodically be the random huge online live events like President Obama's inauguration, sports and music will drive peak live viewership.
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