The ‘Interactive TV News’ Category

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We inaugurated as an offshoot of over a year ago, as we thought there ought to be a single news site devoted to covering the rise of the connected home, the acceleration of time-shifted viewing, interactive TV, addressable, social TV, over-the-top services and devices – and how it affects the process of buying and selling television advertising.

While we have found the industry around all these areas to be vibrant, exciting and hungry for such news, we've also come to the conclusion that when it comes to trade media, one brand is stronger than two. Therefore, we have spent the past month working on merging TVExchanger into AdExchanger, as the mission of our flagship is not just focused on real-time bidding platforms. AdExchanger's purview encompasses all the touchpoints of digital advertising and an exchange of ideas about how the ad tech space is being reshaped by the migration of traditional ad dollars and methods of buying and selling media – including the emerging TV advertising landscape.

David Kaplan, who has edited TVExchanger since December 2011, will continue covering all aspects of digital video and the future of TV as Editor, Video & Publishing for AdExchanger.

And with that, we now conclude our broadcast day at TVExchanger, as we ask you to tune in every day and via email to

The Limits Of ‘NewFronts’

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The Limits Of ‘NewFronts'

This past week's NewFront events – a bid to connect online video advertising to the roughly $10 billion TV upfront marketplace – generated a lot of attention (see AdExchanger coverage here and here), but it's worth wondering about the substance of the extravaganzas held by Publicis Groupe's Digitas, Hulu, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft.

In the view of Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser, the shows put on by the above entities won't add up to much in terms of moving significant amounts of ad budgets to online video from TV.

For one thing, as many media buyers have told me repeatedly, online video is plagued by a lack of premium inventory. Still, the original web video that was promoted at the various NewFront presentations this week surely is a start in terms of addressing that problem.

But that's what it is – just a start. After all, as eMarketer has noted, Ad spending on online video totaled just $2.02 billion – still, it has experienced an impressive rise of 55 percent from 2010 – while TV advertising in the U.S. hit $72 billion last year, according to Nielsen figures released this past week.

Wieser also points out that actual viewing of online video, while growing vastly, is still small, as consumers spend only a small percentage of their time with video-based properties. "While publishers are finding ways to expand inventory (for example, by placing pre-roll video ads prior to online games or by adding to ad loads), the total volume available for sale is limited, and very little of it would be deemed to be of sufficient value that it must be locked up in advance," Wieser writes in an analyst note (pdf-only, not available online).

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NewFront Week: Online Ad Dollars Versus TV? Not For Collective

The point of this week’s "NewFront" events from AOL, Microsoft Yahoo, Digitas and others is to make sure that when brand advertisers open their budgets wide for the traditional TV upfront season, they consider taking a portion of that spending and devote it to online ads.

Not Collective. While the company has been in talks with Digitas about partnering on some NewFront activity, the ad tech firm is taking the opportunity to suggest that brand marketers tie their TV spending and online advertising closer together, rather than calling for a direct share from one to the other.

Collective has been making the pitch that online should be used as a complement to TV ad spending since last fall, when it unveiled its TV Accelerator product. In September, Collective struck a deal with set-top box audience data aggregator Rentrak to expand its digital video business to include TV advertising.

The idea is to build on Collective’s promise to brand advertisers to buy particular audiences by offering the same arrangement to TV buyers.

“There’s a realization that most advertisers today are no longer planning online video as part of their digital budgets, they’re planning video holistically across broadcast, cable and internet and ultimately, any video-enabled device,” said  Collective CEO Joe Apprendi, in an interview with TVExchanger. “The point is, with TV Accelerator, the goal is to help maximize marketers’ biggest investment, which is TV advertising. After all, we’re focused on attracting brands, and brands spend most of their money on TV. It’s about $80 billion a year in the U.S. on TV, versus about $15 billion on display. Why fight that tide?”

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The Week In Review: How NBC Reversed Itself And Learned To Embrace Live Streams

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NBC's Reverse-And-Learn

Given the fact that the sky didn't fall when NBC Universal streamed Super Bowl XLVI – over two million streamers didn't come close to cannibalizing the 111 million who watched worldwide – it's no surprise that the network did an about face on past years' policy regarding the Olympics broadcasts. As the network announced last week, all 32 sports will be streamed live.

Compared to NBCU's online offerings at the Winter Olympics two years ago, when just hockey and curling were the only primetime events that were streamed live, this represents a giant leap in the broadcaster's thinking. Still, that's not to say that NBCU is going to make all this live broadband video available without any strings attached. The strategy is certainly open, but it contains a good deal of caution, since, after all, primetime is where the real ad dollars are aimed.

While access will be free, viewers will have to sign on under their "pay TV provider." In other words, cord-cutters are out of luck. Secondly, NBCU tells the NYT's Richard Sandomir that events like swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field, and beach volleyball will not be archived until well after the original live primetime broadcast. Probably not a big deal – after all, most non-linear views will take place in the days after the medals are handed out. However, if NBCU doesn't feature the archived content within hours, it could miss some opportunities.

The network is clearly aware of that, so the restrictions probably won't be too onerous. As Rick Cordella, VP/GM of NBC Sports Digital Media told the NYT, "Anytime you have a great event that happens before it shows on the air, it increases ratings and generates buzz."

Cordella pointed to 2011's French Open semifinal between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Online viewers got to see it live when the West Coast event was happening as the live broadcast was only available on the East Coast. The result, the buzz spreading from online viewers and those on the East Coast galvanized attention and built it up three hours later – just in time for West Coast viewers to tune in on TV. As a result, TV ratings were higher for the Pacific time viewers, thanks to the buzz that was built.

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The Week In Review: Sports’ Online Video Movement

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MLBAM Hits Three Million

Is this the year that digital video comes to look much more like cable TV and broadcast? In a general sense, probably not. But there will be some special examples that do blur the lines more than ever. And as we've seen in January's first live streaming of the Super Bowl by NBC Universal, sports programming is where the dividing lines between old and new methods of distribution and advertising are being erased most decisively.

Case in point: the apparent success of Major League Baseball Advanced Media's (MLBAM) app strategy. The MLB's digital business arm's "baseball everywhere" strategy, that allows users of its At Bat app to purchase "season passes" to watch games on their mobile devices, has been in the works for years. But the important pieces, particularly the ability to insert advertising into live streams has only been truly effective since late last year.

Now, just a week after the opening of the 2012 baseball season, MLBAM says its At Bat app surpassed the 3 million download mark. Pretty impressive for a week's work. But it's even more impressive when you consider that it took about four months to reach that point last season.

The MLBAM has even more noteworthy numbers: since Opening Day, the mobile app has delivered a daily average of over 800,000 live audio and video streams, an increase roughly double last year's comparable daily average. Read the release.

Of course, that doesn't tell us how many complete games were viewed or what sort of engagement levels there are, but traditional TV can't offer those answers either, right?

Last summer Auditude, now owned by Adobe, was selected by MLBAM to build a rich media ad serving platform for inserting live ads. A number of other premium content owners are looking closely to see how that effort shapes up. Certainly, the MLBAM is betting heavily on video ads as a substantial revenue driver.

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The Week In Review: March Madness Digital Viewership Dips, Ad Dollars Don’t

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On March Madness Viewers, Ads

The TV Everywhere concept is intended to protect the existing system of broadcast retransmission and licensing fees. But not much has been said about the impact on advertising and that's because most TV Everywhere experiences - where authenticated cable subscribers get to watch cable programming on their PCs, smartphones and tablets - remain in the nascent and experimental phase.

Turner's placement of its broadcasts of this year's March Madness college basketball tournament behind a TV Everywhere paywall could offer a clear look at what this system means to the viewership and ad spend for networks as they prepare to more fully navigate the world of live streaming video. After all, most TV industry observers acknowledge that one reason subscribers won't cut their cable cord in favor of over-the-top services is that they can't get live sports through any other vehicle.

While Turner hasn't talked about how well it's done in terms of its ad revenue, the digital viewership numbers declined predictably due to the introduction of the TV Everywhere and paywall. As the Turner, and its March Madness partner CBS Sports announced back in Februrary, digital viewers would either have to prove they're "authenticated" subscribers or pay $3.99 to watch all 67 games.

In terms of the digital viewership, Multichannel News' Todd Spangler has the details from Turner: traffic to and March Madness Live broadband and mobile services slipped 6 percent year-over-year with 51.6 million visits between March 11 to April 2. During that period, the digital extensions attracted about 1.1 million daily uniques, which represented a drop of 10 percent.

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Everyday Health Debuts YouTube Original Programming

Everyday HealthNearly a year after Everyday Health made the leap from the web to broadcast with its own syndicated weekly program on ABC, the wellness news and info online network is launching its premium YouTube channel Everyday Health: TV to Change Your Life.

Given the ambitions that YouTube unveiled last fall when it said it was looking to emphasize its value as a platform for professional -- as opposed to user-generated content -- video entertainment with roughly 100 content producers, the question is: can the Google-owned site and its partners really challenge the traditional ways premium video? And who is the main beneficiary -- YouTube or the partners?

Paul Slavin, GM/SVP Global News for Everyday Health and its studios, knows something about creating digital video extensions for traditional broadcasters by dint of his previous post as the digital head of ABC News. He told TVExchanger that the YouTube partnership is intended to serve as the core part of its video strategy and help expand the 30-site network's roughly 38 million monthly users.

As it begins, advertising is not the primary focus -- building the audience is, and that entails driving users back to the site network. Ultimately, Slavin does expect YouTube to produce revenue. But it's anyone's guess at this point how quickly and how many dollars will materialize.

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The Week In Review: Mobile Cable… A Contradiction In Terms?

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'Mobile Cable' – A Contradiction In Terms?

With all the talk of portable electronic devices serving as the television's complementary "second screen" and how cable companies are rushing to develop "TV Everywhere" apps that let subscribers watch what they want, when they want, Verizon's proposal of "mobile cable" would easily engender cheers from the tech press, right?

Well, not from GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham, who counts the ways Verizon's idea warrants cries of foul instead of high fives.

Jumping off from a WSJ piece detailing Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams' plan to have an "integrated" mobile video service for pay TV subscribers in place by the end of the year, Higginbotham questions the consumer benefits of such an offering. So far, Verizon will have to jump through a number of regulatory hoops and will need to purchase spectrum licenses from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications.

The key feature of the service is that it might have some kind of a la carte model, where consumers just purchase individual channels or programs, instead of the traditional cable bundle. Entertainment companies and smaller networks have tended to resist that sort of pricing, since it would naturally under cut their current businesses.

Anyway, for consumers, the prospect of more video on their phones sounds terrific at first blush – but the rub appears to be that consumers would have to pay more – and more. Currently, most TV Everywhere services are tied to wi-fi supplied by a cable company in the home. The HBO Go app is an exception, though it does let viewers block the app when they're not tethered to wi-fi. After all, phone companies are starting to hit subscribers with higher data plan fees, and video eats up a ton of bandwidth.

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