Video ad tech is a very hot space currently with lots of deals and financings, with the latest being Eyeview, which this morning announced a $15 million financing from existing investor Marker LLC. The new funds bring to $34.5 million the total amount the company has raised.
Eyeview describes itself as "fusing the effectiveness of TV video branding with the efficiencies of digital personalization." It does this by taking a standard TV ad or other video creative and dynamically customizing it to target individual viewers. The customizations can vary by things like specific advertiser offers, geography, viewer behavior, weather conditions, calendar events, etc. Basically any type of trigger that would help to drive engagement and take the video ad experience far beyond what's typical on TV.
Late yesterday Yahoo announced it's acquiring video ad platform BrightRoll for $640 million cash. The deal had been rumored for a while and is the latest in a consolidation trend in the video ad tech space (and larger online video space) over the past year. By my count, since the start of 2014, there have been over 20 different online video acquisitions in the U.S. alone, spanning ad tech, content creation, distribution, search/discovery and mobile.
The BrightRoll deal instantly makes Yahoo one of the leading players in programmatic video advertising, a significant growth area in the industry. Yahoo joins other big media companies that have also entered the programmatic video ad space via acquisition (e.g. Facebook with LiveRail, AOL with Adap.tv, RTL Group with SpotXchange, etc.). With all of these companies now emphasizing programmatic, growth will surely accelerate further.
Cloud-based encoding company Encoding.com has raised a $3.5 million Series B round led by video infrastructure provider Harmonic, with participation by existing investors. The new round brings to $8 million the total capital raised by the company.
The investment follows a partnership announced last April between the companies in which Encoding.com integrated Harmonic's ProMedia Carbon transcoding solution. That deal allows content providers and distributors who already use Carbon on-premise to tap into Encoding.com's Carbon deployment to meet transcoding demand spikes.
Discovery and analytics provider Rovi has announced its acquisition of Fanhattan, a startup offering cloud-based discovery solutions as well as the innovative Fan TV connected TV device. Fanhattan combines live TV, VOD and OTT in one search experience powered from the cloud, which is available to viewers either through the web, an iOS device or the Fan TV.
Omar Javaid, SVP/GM of Rovi's Discovery group told me the primary motivation for the deal was Fanhattan's cloud-based unified discovery technology, its team and the products. Fanhattan augments Rovi's existing next-generation discovery products. Rovi's customers include many pay-TV operators (Charter, Dish, etc.), device manufacturers (Apple, Samsung, Sharp, etc.) and online entertainment services (Shazam, Facebook, MTV, etc.).
The video ad tech consolidation trend continues on, with the latest deal seeing Ooyala acquire London-based Videoplaza for an undisclosed sum. The deal comes just 2 months after Ooyala itself was acquired by the big Australian telecom provider Telstra, which was a previous investor. Jonathan Wilner, VP, Product at Ooyala, told me in an interview that these are just the first 2 steps in Telstra's broader ambition to help content providers better monetize their video, particularly by using data.
While a number of YouTube multichannel networks (MCNs) have made lucrative exits recently, Kin Community, an MCN/female-focused lifestyle network, is instead aiming for long-term independent success, CEO and co-founder Michael Wayne explained to me.
Toward that end, late last week Kin raised $12 million, led by Canadian media company Corus Entertainment, with participation by Emil Capital and existing investors. It was the first financing in 6 years for the company, which has been profitable since 2012. Kin now generates 25 million unique viewers/month (and 4 billion lifetime views) with brands including Rosanna Pansino, Wayne Gross, The Ellen Show, Byron Talbot and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
JW Player has raised a $20 million Series C round, led by existing investor Greycroft Capital and Greenspring Associates, with participation from Cueball Capital and e.ventures. The company intends to use the proceeds to drive global growth, expand sales, marketing, product and engineering, and further develop its SAS platform.
The company said its player delivers almost 5% of all streamed video, with 900 million people per month using JW Player to watch video on over 2 million web and mobile sites. An enterprise side of the business now serves 200 companies in the Fortune 1000. Sample customers include POPSUGAR, Zynga, Fujitsu, Thomson Reuters, Philips and many others.
Topics: JW Player
Video ad tech provider Mixpo has acquired ShopIgniter, a Portland, OR firm specializing in social and mobile advertising. Mixpo CEO Jeff Lanctot said the company concluded in a recent internal strategic review that in order for it to truly offer a best-in-class multiscreen video ad platform, it needed to improve its capabilities in mobile and social, which are increasingly intertwined.
September is here and that means summer 2014 is in the rear-view mirror. For online video and the broader video ecosystem, it was another busy few months, as viewers around the world continue to shift their consumption patterns, with many companies scrambling to keep pace. Below I've distilled my list of the 10 biggest online video stories of the summer - read on and let me know if I've missed something!
Late yesterday Australian telecom provider Telstra acquired online video publishing platform Ooyala, by increasing its ownership stake from 23% to 98%, through an investment of $270 million (the purchase of the incremental 75% stake implies a total enterprise valuation of $360 million. Though Ooyala's revenues are undisclosed, as one point of comparison, Brightcove's current public valuation is approximately $200 million).
Subsequent to the deal's closing Ooyala will become a subsidiary of Telstra and will operate as an independent business with existing management and brand. This is a model that has worked successfully for thePlatform, another major OVP which was acquired by Comcast back in 2006. Ooyala will become part of Telstra's new Global Applications and Platforms group, which is investing in companies that are "adjacent to Telstra's core business, where software disrupts traditional business models."
I'm pleased to present the 238th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we talk about the now fizzled Fox-Time Warner deal and the imperative of investing for the future. As I wrote, I think the deal's collapse is actually a positive outcome for Fox, as it was a risky bet to double down on the saturated and stressed pay-TV ecosystem. A more forward-looking, growth-oriented investment strategy would capitalize on changes being driven by online and mobile video.
Two of the biggest changes are among viewers and advertisers. Illustrating how younger viewers' attitudes are quickly evolving, we discuss new data showing YouTube stars are now more influential among American teens than Hollywood celebrities.
Meanwhile, underscoring how advertisers are now able to take their messages directly to consumers, we note that Nike dominated World Cup branded video viewership even though it wasn't even an official event partner. Another great example is Acura's creative sponsorship of Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."
Last but not least, this week brought news that Netflix's subscription revenue for Q2 '14 edged out HBO's for the same period - an important milestone showing how OTT business models are coming of age.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 47 seconds)
Late yesterday, Fox retracted its $80 billion proposed acquisition of Time Warner. The combination of a recalcitrant Time Warner, falling Fox stock price and need to significantly sweeten the deal all clearly deterred Rupert Murdoch from further pursuit.
From my perspective, this is a good outcome for Fox. Why? Because the deal was mainly premised on certain key assumptions about the pay-TV business that, in reality, are unlikely to play out as Fox hopes. It was dubious that Fox was ready to pay $80 billion for Time Warner and not even gain any entry to new growth markets, but that was basically the case.
European broadcast and entertainment giant RTL Group has bought a 65% stake in online video ad platform SpotXchange for $144 million, plus an earnout based on performance and an option to buy the remaining 35%. SpotXchange will continue to operate as an independent company, with CEO Mike Shehan saying that funds will be used to accelerate growth, particularly in Europe.
Last week's acquisition of LiveRail by Facebook was the latest in a busy year of M&A deals and financings in the video industry. Across the spectrum of advertising, content, distribution, mobile and management/publishing, bigger industry players continue positioning themselves for the online/mobile video future, while innovative startups filling key needs continue getting lots of attention from investors.
I keep pretty close track of all the activity on VideoNuze and below is a summary of the 2014 video industry M&A and financings that I'm aware of (apologies in advance, I'm sure I've missed a few; if so, send over and I'll update). I've included links to appropriate coverage or press releases.
Categories: Deals & Financings
In case you missed it, last Thursday Twitter acquired SnappyTV, a cloud-based video platform that allows content providers and brands to quickly create clips from live video and then distribute them through social media. It's a highly strategic deal for Twitter, further positioning the company to "win the moments that matter" for both audience and monetization.
"Win the moments that matter" is a phrase I first heard from YouTube executives a couple of years ago and it has great relevance for the Twitter-SnappyTV deal. The massive trends around mobile devices, social media, content syndication and video have created a sweet spot for TV networks and rights-holders to drive huge traffic spikes by making highly newsworthy moments readily available to fans.
From a strategic perspective, AT&T's deal to acquire DirecTV for $49 billion ($67 billion when debt is included) sure seems backward-looking, as it completely misses the imperative of broadband and online video in all of our lives.
Broadband and online video have driven many of the recent deals in the headlines (e.g. Comcast-Time Warner Cable, Disney-Maker Studios, the rumored YouTube-Twitch deal, etc.). Smart companies are looking at the massive shifts in consumer behavior and technology and are scrambling to position themselves for future paradigms that look very different from those of the past.
Extreme Reach, which provides video ad solutions across TV and online video, has acquired BrandAds, a startup that has developed a measurement solution for online video ads. Back in Sept. '13, I covered the launch of BrandAds Bridge product, which uses direct audience measurement to report on 30 difference performance metrics.
John Roland, CEO of Extreme Reach, told me that whereas the company's clients already have access to robust insights for TV ads, the BrandAds acquisition will enhance measurement of online video ads, something its clients are seeking. Doing so will provide a more accurate picture of video ads' effectiveness and the ability to reduce waste and inefficiency.
Online video platform provider Kaltura has acquired Tvinci, whose technology powers pay TV and content provider linear and OTT services. Terms were not disclosed. Ron Yekutiel, Chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Kaltura told me yesterday that the Tvinci technology gives Kaltura the ability to support customers' paid live/linear video services in addition to ad-supported VOD.
This is critical because in Ron's view, longer-term, the ability to support the full breadth of services and business models from the cloud will be the defining advantage. Ron sees this most particularly in the media business, which has been Tvinci's focus, but also in education and enterprise, other verticals that Kaltura serves.
I'm pleased to present the 218th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Both of us have continued to observe signs of how online video is coming of age, and today we discuss some of them.
We start with news that Comcast will begin selling episodes of "House of Cards" in its Xfinity online store. Putting aside the question of why someone would buy an episode for $1.99 when they could binge-view all 26 episodes in a month for $7.99, both of us thought it's noteworthy that the largest cable operator believes an online-only series is worth selling (and note too, the deal was done with Sony Pictures, and that Verizon also has been selling the series).
Then there was the report that Disney might acquire Maker Studios, a pure-play online video / YouTube content provider. While Colin and I get a chuckle out of the idea that the Disney flag could fly over Epic Rap Battles and PewDiePie, we agree it would be a smart bet to gain reach into the all-important millennial segment.
Then we turn to the $18 million investment by Warner Bros. in Machinima, an online video gamer-centric content creator also targeting millennials. The 2 companies already had a successful collaboration with the "Mortal Kombat: Legacy" web series. No doubt the new investment will spur more gamer-centric originals for distribution by Warner Bros.
We wrap up by discussing just how important millennials are to the video's future. Recent data suggest this group is still pretty glued into the pay-TV ecosystem, but their behaviors are changing fast, in turn leading established media companies to focus on online video more than ever.
Click here to listen to the podcast (17 minutes, 38 seconds)
Comcast has acquired video ad manager FreeWheel for $375 million cash, validating reports that have been circulating since the weekend, but at a higher valuation than rumored. The deal is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in a couple of weeks. FreeWheel will become an independent operating subsidiary within Comcast, comparable to how thePlatform and STRATA, two prior Comcast acquisitions, function. FreeWheel's 3 co-founders, Doug Knopper, Jon Heller and Diane Yu have signed multi-year employment agreements.