The WIR: Netflix Debuts a Linear Channel in France, Comcast Enters Talks with Walmart to Make Smart TVs, and California Strengthens its Privacy Laws

In this week’s Week in Review:  Netflix Direct debuts in France, Comcast and Walmart enter smart TV talks, and California beefs up its data privacy laws. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Netflix Debuts Linear Channel ‘Netflix Direct’ in France
Streaming giant Netflix this week began testing a new linear channel, Netflix Direct, in certain regions of France. The channel, available only via web browsers, runs Netflix content in a linear format, akin to a traditional TV channel. The move marks Netflix’s first step outside of on-demand viewing, and could be a test for a more fleshed out linear offering in the future.

Linear formats have become increasingly common on both ad-supported and subscription OTT services, with the likes of Pluto TV and Xumo offering linear channels. One benefit of linear is that it lets users start watching content without first having to choose a specific film or programme, in the same way that traditional TV doesn’t require you to choose something specific to watch before you turn it on. And Netflix says France has been chosen for the rollout specifically because French audiences prefer not having to choose what to watch next.

A linear channel would also give Netflix a way to draw viewers into content they might otherwise not choose to watch. As competition among SVOD and AVOD services heats up, exposing Netflix subscribers to more of its content offering may prove valuable for customer retention.

Comcast and Walmart Enter Talks to Create and Sell Smart TVs
US telco Comcast has entered talks with supermarket chain Walmart around developing and distributing smart TVs, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Comcast is considering creating software to run on smart TVs, which would be built by a third-party manufacturer. Walmart would then promote and distribute these TVs.

The move would see Comcast competing with Roku, Amazon and Google in the smart TV platform space. Roku already has a similar deal with Walmart, which sells Roku powered TVs under Walmart’s own Onn brand. And it would give Comcast a stake in strong growth area for TV distribution, at a time when Comcast’s traditional pay TV operations are in decline.

California Approves Stricter Data Privacy Laws
California’s Proposition 24, which proposed an expansion of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), was passed by voters this week. The updated law will expand the types of data which consumers can block businesses from sharing, and will ensure that future revisions to the law don’t water down the CCPA’s provisions. The new law also established a regulator, the California Privacy Protection Agency, which will be responsible for enforcing the law.

The CCPA is the highest profile state-level privacy law in America, and is seen by some as a blueprint for other states to follow, meaning stricter measures could be copied elsewhere.

The Week in Tech

The Trade Desk Stock Hits Record High After Strong Q3
Demand-side platform The Trade Desk’s stock hit a record high in after-hours trading on Thursday, with the ad tech company’s share price jumping by 12 percent following strong Q3 financial results. The Trade Desk posted quarterly revenues of $216.11 million, up from $164.20 million in the same period last year.

Amazon’s Ad Revenues Jump Fifty Percent
Amazon’s growing ad business saw revenues shoot up fifty percent year-on-year in Q3, according to the ecommerce giant’s financial results, with total ad revenues reaching $5.4 billion.

Nielsen Joins The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0
Measurement company Nielsen became the latest tech business to sign up to The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0, one of a number of industry efforts to create an identifier suitable for the post-cookie world. Data onboarding business LiveRamp and retargeting specialist Criteo both partnered with The Trade Desk’s initiative last week.

Google Sees Ad Sales Rebound
Google’s parent company Alphabet reported this week that it saw a strong rebound in ad sales growth, following depressed growth during the height of the pandemic. Total revenues reached $46.2 billion, up 15 percent year-on-year.

Nielsen to Add Big Data to Panel Measurement
US measurement company Nielsen is telling clients it is working on a new metric to measure TV advertising, in order to modernise its offering. Nielsen will begin combining return-path data from millions of cable set-top-boxes and automatic content recognition data from smart TVs with its existing panel data, to give a more accurate view of audience numbers.

TAG Claims 90 Percent Fraud Reduction in TAG Certified CTV Channels
Industry anti-fraud certification body TAG this week claimed that buyers see a 90 percent reduction in ad fraud when buying from TAG-certified CTV channels. TAG says a study conducted by The 614 Group found the fraud rate on certified CTV channels is just 0.6 percent.

Majority of Brits Find Contextually Relevant Ads More Memorable says IAS
A study from Integral Ad Science (IAS) found that 70 percent of British people say they find contextually relevant ads more memorable. And 81 percent of UK consumers say they prefer to see ads which match the content they’re viewing.

The Week in TV

ProSiebenSat.1 Returns to Profit in Q3
German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 reported this week that it returned to profit in Q3, reaching net profits of €29 million. CEO Rainer Beaujean said the company has seen an upturn in the advertising market, and that cost-cutting measures implemented by ProSieben have also helped spur the turnaround. ProSieben’s stock rose by almost 15 percent following these results.

YouTube TV Passes Three Million Paid Subscribers
YouTube TV, Google’s vMVPD (virtual multichannel video programming distributor), has passed three million subscribers. This is only the second time Google has given official stats on the service, since Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced in February that YouTube TV had passed the two million mark in Q4 last year.

Sony Reportedly Close to Buying Crunchyroll for $1 Billion
Sony is reportedly close to buying WarnerMedia-owned anime SVOD service Crunchyroll for $1 billion. Nikkei Asia, which reported the news, says Sony won the rights to exclusively bid for the service earlier this year, and negotiations are reaching their final stages.

Tubi’s View Time Doubles in a Year
Tubi, an ad-supported streaming service bought by Fox earlier this year, reported this week that the amount of time spent watching content on its platform has doubled year-on-year. Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch said this growth was driven in part by the addition of Fox titles to Tubi, following the acquisition.

Discovery’s Revenues Drop Four Percent Year-on-Year
Discovery posted something of a recovery in Q3, with total revenues down by four percent year-on-year. This marked a significant improvement on Q2, when revenues were 12 percent lower than the previous year.

Video Entertainment Ad Spend to Remain Roughly Stable in 2020
Zenith research this week found that ad spend from video entertainment brands, including TV networks and streaming services, will outperform the market and remain roughly stable this year, falling by just 0.2 percent. This is driven by increased viewing and competition in the market, according to Zenith.

SVOD Age Gap is Narrowing says Ampere
While it remains true that younger audiences use subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services more than older audiences, the gap between age groups is narrowing according to data from Ampere Analysis this week. For the 35-44 age group in particular in the UK, SVOD viewing has grown from 0.48 hours a day to 1.09 hours, meaning this group lags only slightly behind the 19-24 age group.

The Week in Publishing

NYT Sees Further Success from Digital Subscription Push
The New York Times reported that it’s seen further success from its push to grow digital subscriptions, with the newspaper now generating more revenue from digital sign-up than from print subscriptions. But the news publisher warned that growth may not be sustainable, as Q3 was boosted by coverage of the pandemic and the US presidential election.

Washington Post Launches First-Party Data Tool Signal
The Washington Post is bolstering its first party data capabilities with a new product called Washington Post Signal, Adweek reported this week. Signal will tie detailed consumption data to the Post’s contextual ad targeting capabilities, for more accurate targeting.

TikTok Countersues Triller
Video sharing app TikTok this week launched a countersuit against rival platform Triller, which earlier in the year sued TikTok over alleged patent infringements. TikTok denies Triller’s claims, and says the lawsuit has “cast a cloud” over its business.

Ozone Project Plans to Triple Staff
The Ozone Project, a UK publisher alliance, is planning to triple its staff count in order to support further product developments. The new hires will work on the Ozone Marketplace, currently in beta testing, as well as a self-serve tool for SMEs.

TikTok Signs Licensing Deal with Sony
TikTok this week agreed a deal with Sony Music Entertainment which will allow TikTok’s users to continue overlaying Sony-owned songs on their videos. The deal also commits Sony to deepening ties with the app, using TikTok to market artists and to identify emerging talent.

The Week for Agencies

Study Finds Agency Staff Outperform In-Housers in Digital Skills
A study carried out by Target Internet in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Marketing this week found that agency staff out perform their in-house counterparts at brands in digital skills. “The complex nature of digital means that marketers need to be continually upskilling themselves just to stay in the same place,” said Gemma Butler, director of marketing at CIM. “The agency sector is taking seriously its role in providing counsel and consultation to organisations and brands, proving that it is keeping pace with technology and can deliver marketing advantage.”

Hershey Reviews US Media Account
Confectionary brand Hershey is reviewing its entire US media agency account in a process overseen by ID Comms. Hershey currently works with IPG media agency UM and Dentsu’s Accordant, as well as running some media buying in-house.

Advertising Association Warns of Second Lockdown’s Impact on Industry
The Advertising Association this week commented on the UK government’s decision to place England under a second national lockdown, warning that “this latest development will have an adverse impact on the vital Christmas trading period and our industry must rapidly adapt and flex once again to protect businesses, jobs and the wider economy.”

WPP Merges The Glitch and VMLY&R
WPP this week announced it is merging Indian agency The Glitch with its global experience agency VMLY&R. The two will work together on projects , but will maintain separate brands and operational structures.

M/SIX Recruits Via Social Media
Media agency m/SIX is experimenting with recruiting entry-level talent solely via social media, as part of an effort to diversify the types of staff it recruits. The agency will not ask for names or a particular educational background from applicants, and there will be no upper age limit.

NBA Sends Media Buying Duties to Mediahub
US basketball league the NBA has awarded its media buying duties to IPG agency Mediahub, who beat out incumbent Spark Foundry for the account.

Hires of the Week

Guardian Media Group Picks Paul Kanareck as Chief Customer and Commercial Officer
The Guardian’s parent company Guardian Media Group has picked Paul Kanareck, previously managing director of Wizarding World Digital, as its new chief customer and commercial officer.

Paul Evans Joins Adgile Media as Global CEO
Paul Evans, previously global head of marketing at Vodafone, has joined Australian TV measurement business Adgile Media as global CEO.

This Week on VAN

Why Targeted Private Marketplaces are the Solution for Digital Media Buyers Seeking Quality and Quantity, read more on VAN

The Buy-Side View: Q&A with Starcom’s Emma Morris, read more on VAN

Vegan Food, Education and Prison Maths: What the Ad Tech Founders Did Next, read more on VAN

TV Attribution Mustn’t Copy Digital’s Short-Term Focus, read more on VAN

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