Wurl posted record results in 2020, powering free streaming linear TV channels to a variety of popular connected TVs (what Wurl calls its “Wurl Network”). Wurl launched 539 channels in 2020, including 220 in Q4 alone. It now delivers over 700 channels from approximately 150 different content producers and TV networks.
Wurl’s channel model demonstrates that despite all of the attention paid to SVOD viewership (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, etc.), consumption isn’t monolithic; in fact viewers often still crave free, lean-back, programmed TV experiences where they can press play once and then sit back and enjoy. Industry analysts have sometimes called these channels “virtual linear” or “free ad-supported TV” (FAST).
Last week Alphabet reported that YouTube's global ad revenues hit a record $6.9 billion in Q4 '20, up 47% from Q4 '19. For perspective on YouTube's and the market's growth, I interviewed Brian Atwood, who was just appointed Pixability's new Chief Revenue Officer. If you're not familiar with Pixability, it provides software and insights for video ad buyers to target and optimize their campaigns on YouTube, YouTube on connected TVs, Amazon Fire and Roku. It also just had a record year of growth and profitability.
VideoNuze: Congratulations on joining Pixability. What excited you about the company?
Brian Atwood: I’ve been working in the YouTube and Connected TV space for over four years now and I have always been impressed with Pixability’s unique targeting solutions, performance optimization and insights. I feel like there is no company better positioned to help brands and agencies navigate the big shifts we’re seeing in the market. More than anything, I’m looking forward to working with the people. They’ve assembled an outstanding team that is incredibly well respected in the industry.
Last Friday’s announcement that Magnite is acquiring SpotX from RTL Group for almost $1.2 billion was further evidence of connected TV advertising’s momentum and the combined company’s market opportunity. Considering Magnite’s pro forma financial results with eMarketer’s forecast of CTV ad revenue shows how much potential growth lies ahead for the combined company.
In its release, Magnite said the combined company would have $42 million of pro forma CTV ad revenue ($15.3 million from Magnite and around $27 million from SpotX) in Q4 ’20. Magnite also said the $42 million would have represented around 34% of Q4’s revenue for the combined company. It further said the combined company would have had pro forma revenue for 2020 of $350 million, so applying the same 34% proportion, the combined company would have had approximately $119 million in CTV revenue in 2020.
Welcome to the 547th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
A couple of weeks ago on our podcast, Colin and I discussed how both AVOD and SVOD services keep growing strongly. This week we explore two specific examples. In AVOD, YouTube’s ad revenue hit $6.9 billion in Q4 ’20, up 46% and for the full year ad revenue hit $19.8 billion, up 31% from 2019.
Meanwhile Crunchyroll, the anime OTT service, announced it’s up to 4 million subscribers, adding a million in the past 6 months, a record growth rate. Like many other streaming services, Crunchyroll appears to be benefiting from Covid. Colin and I explore what’s behind both companies’ success and where things go from here.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 29 seconds)
YouTube advertising revenue grew to $6.9 billion in Q4 ’20, up 46% from $4.7 billion in Q4 ’19. YouTube’s results were reported as part of parent company Alphabet’s Q4 ’20 and full year 2020 earnings released yesterday. YouTube’s ad revenue accounted for 15% of Google’s total ad revenue of $46.2 billion in Q4 ’20, up from 12.4% of Google’s total ad revenue of n Q4 ’19.
Critical to YouTube’s ad growth is the macro trend of reduced linear TV viewing, especially among younger audiences. This makes it harder than ever for brands to reach these viewers, a tailwind that is helping all ad-supported streaming services.
Sell-side ad platform Magnite has unveiled an open beta of its “Unified Decisioning” solution which gives CTV and OTT publishers the ability to have direct sold and programmatic demand compete for available inventory. By doing so publishers can maximize yield while the decisioning still respects deal priority and business rules such as frequency capping and competitive separation.
Paige Bilins, Magnite’s VP of Video Product Management said “publishers are eager to tap into the efficiencies that programmatic provides without relinquishing the control they are used to when selling directly to buyers.” Magnite said that Unified Decisioning works with all major ad servers.
Welcome to the 545th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
AVOD services are growing strongly, yet linear TV still accounts for 90% of video ad spending. This week Colin and I discuss a new report from Tubi that details how advertisers can now only reach a sizable share of younger audiences by shifting more spending to AVOD. With AVOD services poised to grow even further in ’21, advertisers will be pressed to reevaluate their spending decisions.
Meanwhile, it’s not just AVOD that’s growing, it’s SVOD too, as Netflix’s Q4 and full year earnings report underscored. Netflix added nearly 37 million subscribers, with international making the biggest contribution. We dig into the highlights of the report, including analysis of differences in Netflix’s results by region.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 48 seconds)
Tubi’s new audience report “The Stream: 2021 Actionable Audience Insights for Brands” makes a compelling case that streaming gives advertisers incremental reach to younger viewers and that Tubi itself is a strong complement to linear TV advertising. The broad industry trends are well-understood: for younger audiences especially, cord-cutting is up, linear viewing is down and streaming is soaring. All of this means advertisers are having a harder time reaching younger viewers.
Specifically, Tubi revealed that 48% of its viewers don’t have pay-TV, contributing to Tubi’s growth to 33 million monthly active users in 2020, with 2.5 billion hours streamed across its 30K titles. Importantly, Tubi’s audience is over 20 years younger on average than linear TV viewers. Tubi said that 80% of its streamers can’t be reached via the top 25 cable TV networks, 68% can’t be reached via other AVOD services, and 64% can’t be reached via Fox, Tubi’s parent. Tubi also noted that 84% of its viewers watch Tubi on a connected TV.
Topics: Tubi TV
FreeWheel’s Council for Premium Video has published a new report, “The Evolution of Streaming,” which outlines streaming’s rise over the past decade and describes four attributes that need to be addressed to fully unlock video advertising’s potential. These include Scale and Unification, Audience Targeting, Quality, Viewability and Fraud, and Audience Measurement.
In the political arena, the 2020 U.S. election may seem like the event that never ends. But for the ad-supported streaming video category, a surge of political advertising has now subsided, returning the fast-growing AVOD business to something approaching normalcy.
What “normal” means in the AVOD camp is different, of course, from the broader ad-supported television economy. For one thing, AVOD participants like ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV and the Crackle video service tend to insert significantly fewer advertisements per hourly viewing session than what viewers elsewhere have come to expect. An ad-load analysis for November shows that even though these two services topped the AVOD charts for total ad time, their totals remain well less than the 16 minutes or more per hour typically seen in the national television network ecosystem.
Connected TV’s ad impression share remained steady in Q3 2020 compared with Q2 2020 according to Extreme Reach’s new Video Benchmarks Report which is based on ad serving data from the company’s AdBridge platform.
CTVs accounted for 39% of impressions in Q3 ’20, essentially flat vs. 40% in Q2 ’20 and 37% in Q1 ’20. However CTV impressions were down from their peak of 51% share in Q3 ’19. Extreme Reach noted that the share reflects a “wide variety of strategies” for how its clients use CTV. The span includes clients who allocate as much as 72% of their impressions to CTV and others that focus on desktop and mobile.
Topics: Extreme Reach
TV ad measurement provider iSpot has enhanced its unified ad measurement capability allowing brands to more accurately gauge incremental reach and effectiveness of cross-screen campaigns. iSpot has integrated demographic data into its Unified Measurement platform to provide person-level cross-screen ad measurement in real time across linear TV and 300+ streaming services. This includes age, gender, household occupancy and co-viewing measurement.
Nielsen has unveiled Nielsen ONE, a single measurement solution that will span linear and digital video viewership. According to its press release, Nielsen ONE will give marketers “visibility into total video consumption regardless of platform or device.” Nielsen said the new solution comes as advertisers are “demanding a single deduplicated view of their audiences across all platforms and mediums.”
Nielsen ONE won’t launch until fourth quarter, 2022. At that time Nielsen will start releasing parallel “cross-media ratings that will deliver metrics at subminute intervals for individual ads and content.” The goal is for Nielsen ONE to become the “foundation of the cross-media buying and selling process, succeeding the current form of TV and digital measurement no later than the Fall 2024 season.”
Video advertising platform SpotX has released a new report detailing seven global video ad trends and predictions for 2021. Overall, the report points to a continued shift in video ad spending to data-centric, highly-measurable campaigns reaching viewers through connected devices. SpotX considers 2020 to have been the start of the “connected decade.” SpotX included insights from executives at Acxiom, AMC Networks, CCI, Discovery, DISH Media, GroupM, Samsung Ads, The Trade Desk and TransUnion in its report.
Following is a summary of SpotX’s seven predictions:
Very few people will lament the end of the rollercoaster year that has been 2020, least of all the marketers and publishers who have been challenged on a daily basis to navigate uncharted economic, societal and behavioral waters. But if there’s one thing to celebrate coming out of the recent turbulence, it’s this: 2020 has forced businesses to embrace and demonstrate a level of agility that many would have previously claimed impossible. And that’s laid an interesting foundation for progress going into 2021.
In a business climate where executives suddenly have the permission to rethink everything, we’re going to see companies doing just that. In 2021, we’re going to see established and challenger brands alike double-down on their newfound nimbleness by testing and experimenting with media and advertising in ways we’ve never seen before. Let’s take a look at the types of media exploration that are on the rise and how brands can make the most of a recovery-focused landscape.
Topics: New York Interconnect
Peer39 is introducing a set of pre-bid cookie-free contextual planning and targeting tools for connected TV ad buyers. This means that CTV ad buyers will gain insights into the programming where CTV ads run, so that they can better target and manage their campaigns.
In a briefing, Alex White, Peer39’s COO, told me that the tools address two industry challenges: demand side platforms have been limited in their ability to surface information about programming causing fragmentation and a lack of contextual categorization about the programming. Alex believes this is the first time contextual data on CTV programming has been offered.
Video ad management platform Beachfront has announced that ad buyers can now use its technology to access Canoe’s premium VOD ad inventory. Canoe powers VOD and linear addressable advertising in 38 million U.S. households that subscribe to pay-TV from Comcast, Charter and Cox, which are Canoe investors.
In a briefing, Chris Maccaro, CEO of Beachfront, told me that the company has been investing in the solution for several years and sees an opportunity to improve VOD yield by exposing digital-centric buyers to premium VOD inventory. Chris believes that as VOD inventory is made available to agencies, brands, demand side platforms and others for automated programmatic buying, yield will improve and prices will increase.
Connected TVs are pervasive in American homes and the pandemic has further accelerated their use. As linear TV viewing has declined, traditional TV advertisers have been shifting their spending to AVOD services, where long-form content is largely viewed on CTVs. Top of the funnel linear TV advertisers, driven by reach and frequency goals, will continue to be drawn by CTV’s and OTT’s expanding audience, especially as major TV networks move more of their premium programming online, in turn growing ad inventory.
In the long term, equally exciting for CTV and OTT is appealing to bottom of the funnel, or performance-oriented, advertisers, which have focused on digital opportunities like search, social and display. These advertisers are ROI-driven and are constantly optimizing for desired actions and outcomes like clicks, follows, buys, etc. Because CTV enables digitally-delivered TV ads with rich viewer data, performance advertisers can measure and adjust their CTV campaigns as they always have in digital.
Bloomberg Media has launched Bloomberg Quicktake, the latest in a series of free, ad-supported, connected TV-first initiatives by big media companies. The streaming news network is launching with 10 1/2 hours of daily programming, including 10 original series and 4 daily news shows. The editorial focus will be broad, including business, technology, culture, society, personal finance, politics, climate and the business of sports, food, travel and entertainment.
Importantly, from a distribution standpoint, Bloomberg Quicktake will be available on all the major CTV platforms, including Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Samsung TV. It will also be available within streaming services like Samsung TV Plus, Tubi and Xumo in the upcoming weeks. Launch sponsors include American Express and AT&T Business.
Bloomberg reported Friday that Disney has curtailed Hulu’s international expansion because Disney does not want to significantly increase Hulu’s valuation which would trigger a higher eventual payout to minority owner Comcast. Hulu’s valuation in early 2024 will set the payout Disney owes Comcast for its one-third share in Hulu under a deal struck in May, 2019. Comcast’s Hulu stake is worth at least $5.8 billion under the deal.
Bloomberg said that Hulu’s late 2019 proposal to Disney to expand internationally was initially supported, but then in August 2020 Disney switched gears and decided to embrace Star as the international brand for its non-U.S. entertainment service. Disney acquired Star, the India media company, as part of its $71 billion Fox deal. Bloomberg also cited Disney’s concerns about extending Hulu’s losses, Covid’s negative impact on Disney’s various businesses, and its commitment of resources to Disney+’s international expansion as other reasons it decided not to support Hulu’s international expansion.