The WIR: BritBox Launches as Channel 4 Joins, ProSieben Sees Growth Despite Linear TV Decline, and TikTok Comes Under US National Security Review


In this week’s Week in Review: BritBox Launches in the UK, TV advertising continues to drop for ProSieben, and TikTok comes under investigation in the US. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

BritBox Launches in UK as Channel 4 Joins
The BBC and ITV’s joint subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service Britbox went live in the UK this week, as news emerged that Channel 4 has agreed to provide content for the service. BritBox first launched in the US as a home for British content, but the launch in the broadcasters’ native UK is seen as a significant play in their efforts to remain competitive against the global giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The service, which will cost £5.99 per month, will feature content from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, with more content added as existing licensing agreement with other services expire. Some are sceptical about how the service will fare, given it will mostly feature content which has already been hosted on participants’ own on-demand services. But a YouGov study found that 23 percent of British consumers would be interested in subscribing to BritBox at its current price.

ProSieben Revenues Grow by 4 Percent Despite Continued Decline of Linear TV Ads
ProSiebenSat.1 maintained its full year guidance in its Q3 results this year, despite the continued decline of its linear TV advertising business which saw revenues fall by six percent. The broadcaster said the majority of its revenues, 56 percent, came from outside of its core TV advertising business, with these additional revenue sources up 13 percent year-on-year. ProSieben’s digital and smart advertising business grew 37 percent, while its production unit Red Arrow Studios saw growth of 21 percent. “We demonstrated once again that our decision to invest in a digital and diversified future was the right one,” said Max Conze, CEO of ProSiebenSat.1 Media.

TikTok Comes Under US National Security Review
The US has been conducting a national security review of video sharing app TikTok, according to a Reuters report this week, over concerns that the company was censoring content to appease the Chinese government. Senator Chuck Schumer, who had called for an investigation, welcomed the report. “This new investigation is validation of our concern that apps like TikTok—that store massive amounts of personal data accessible to foreign governments—may pose serious risks to millions of Americans and deserve greater scrutiny,” he said.

The Week in Tech

DSP Viant Returns to Independence as Meredith Sells its Stake
Ad tech company Viant’s co-founders,Tim and Chris Vanderhook, announced on Monday they have bought back the 60 percent stake in the demand-side platform (DSP) from Meredith Corp for an undisclosed fee. The company will therefore return to the market as an independent DSP. Viant was previously sold to Time Inc. in February 2016 for $87 million and since then Time was itself acquired by Meredith Corp in 2017 for $2.8 billion. Read the full story on VAN.

Nielsen to Separate Into Two Companies
Nielsen announced this week that it plans to separate into two publicly traded companies. Global Media will cater to Nielsen’s media and advertising clients, while Global Connect will provide research data to consumer goods companies. “As independent companies, both Nielsen—the Global Media business—and the new company consisting of Global Connect will enjoy added flexibility and further strengthen their paths toward a new phase of growth, productivity and industry leadership,” said James Attwood, chairman of Nielsen’s board of directors.

CTV Continues to Deliver for The Trade Desk
The Trade Desk said this week that connected TV is continuing to help drive growth, with CEO Jeff Green saying on an investors call that “there is nothing I’m more excited about, nothing more game changing than what is happening in connected TV”. Connected TV revenues for the company grew 145 percent year-on-year in Q3, helping drive overall revenues to $164 million, up 38 percent. Green attributed CTV’s performance in large part to partnerships the company secured in 2019. “If you go back in time and ask me to write down on a sheet of paper, what are the best partnerships that we could form this year, I don’t know that I could have dreamed up a better year than what has happened between the partnerships with Amazon and with Comcast and what we’re doing with Disney and even what we’re doing with Roku,” he said.

Rubicon Project and SOURCE Announce Integrations with LiveRamp’s IdentityLink
Rubicon Project and MediaMath’s SOURCE both announced integrations with with LiveRamp and its IdentityLink graph. Rubicon Project’ says its implementation of IdentityLink in the bidstream enables DSPs to directly transact on IdentityLinks (IDL), which reduces dependence on cookies, improves addressability, and allows marketers to engage people, rather than devices. MediaMath meanwhile says it will utilise IDL to bid on advertising inventory across display, mobile, and Connected TV (CTV), and that the partnership will enhance MediaMath’s ability to link devices to users in an anonymous, privacy-compliant manner.

Smart AdServer Opens London Office
Smart AdServer this week announced a market launch in the UK with the opening of a London office. Pierce Cook-Anderson has been appointed UK Country Manager and will lead UK operations, where his role will involve growing the UK branch and building Smart’s relationships with the UK’s leading publishers. “We already work with many UK-based publishers, agencies and global trading desks, and we’re looking forward to engaging more closely with all of them,” said Arnaud Créput, CEO at Smart. “We’re already in talks with several local players around our vision of a transparent and open ecosystem based on quality.”

App Developers Consider Move Towards Unified Auctions
Research from Fyber released this week found that 77 percent of app developers are considering moving from the waterfall method of selling in-app inventory towards real-time unified auctions, due to accuracy, transparency, and more granular user data. Two thirds of those surveyed said they think app bidding (think header bidding for apps) represents the future of ad monetisation, while 60 percent are already familiar with in-app bidding solutions.

The Week in TV

UK House of Lords Committee Calls for “Urgent Action” to Safeguard PSBs
The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee this week published its report on public service broadcasting, calling for “urgent action” to safeguard PSBs. The report noted that PSBs face “unprecedented” competition from Netflix, Amazon, and other subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, and that losing PSBs would “leave UK society and democracy worse off”. Among the recommendations made were:

  • Listed sports events: The committee recommends a modest increase in the number of listed sports events, which must be shown free to air. This could include The Ashes and The Open Golf Championship.
  • TV production: The UK production sector is a national success story, but it is at risk of reaching full capacity and overheating. The committee recommends changes to High-End TV tax relief and the Apprenticeship Levy, as well as a review of the Terms of Trade between PSBs and independent producers to determine whether they should still apply to larger companies.
  • Regulation and funding: The Government should support PSBs in the new technological environment, and think very carefully before imposing any further regulatory or financial burdens on them. The committee does not support a levy on SVODs at this time.

Comcast Considers Making Peacock Free for Everyone
Comcast is considering making the ad-supported version of its upcoming streaming service ‘Peacock’ free for everyone, according to a report from CNBC this week. Peacock’s ad-supported tier was initially planned to be free to Comcast pay-TV and broadband subscribers, but available to others for a small fee. Comcast subscribers may get some other additional benefit on the service in lieu of the price advantage, according to the report.

Disney+ Will Run Starz Ad Thanks to Rights Negotiations
Disney’s yet-to-be-released ad-free streaming service Disney+ will run an ad promoting US TV network Starz, The Verge reported this week, as part of a revised licensing deal between the two companies. Disney+, as well as ESPN+, will show users an ad for Starz after they sign up to Disney’s services. Disney agreed to the move as part of a deal to bring certain Disney films which had been licensed to Starz, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, onto its own service.

Disney+ also had its European launch dates confirmed, going live in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain on March 31st next year.

The Week in Publishing

YouTube Debuts New Look on Desktop and Tablet
YouTube today announced a redesign of its homepage on desktop and tablets, which the video platform says includes longer video titles and larger thumbnails, to give users a better idea of the videos being presented to them. YouTube is also bringing an add to queue feature to desktop, as well as the ability to remove suggestions from specific channels which the user isn’t interested in.

NYT Plans to Pull Programmatic Ads from Mobile Over Loading Times
The New York Times says its will remove open marketplace programmatic ads from its mobile app from next year, due to slow loading times making for a poor loading experience, AdExchanger reported this week. The publisher expects a revenue loss somewhere in the single digital millions, but believes this will be more than made up for by better user engagement, and higher subscription and retention rates.

Uber Plans to Sell Inventory on Uber Eats App
Uber is planning to begin selling ads on its food delivery app Uber Eats, according to TechCrunch, in an effort to bolster the revenues it makes on the app. The company posted a job ad for an Ads Lead, and the company confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s “exploring relevant ads in eats”. These will allow restaurants to run paid promotions on the app, in order to attract more business.

YouTube Helps Creators Diversify Beyond Ad Revenue with Super Stickers
YouTube this week launched the latest product in its line of additional monetisation options for creators, ‘Super Stickers’. Super Stickers are small animations which audiences can pay to post in the chat section of a YouTube live stream, or of a YouTube Premiere (where a creator sets a pre-recorded video to go live at a certain time, and invites their audience to watch it simultaneously). YouTube says the idea is to give audiences a fun way to show their appreciation to their favourite creators, and whilst they might seem like a bit of a gimmick to older generations, the platform believes they have the potential to be a significant earner for creators as many continue to look for non-advertising sources of revenue. Read the full story on VAN.

YouTube Stickers

The Week for Agencies

Fimalac Buys Majority Stake in Jellyfish
French holding group Fimalac this week bought a majority stake in London-based digital marketing agency Jellyfish, which will be merged with Fimalac’s data-driven marketing solutions company Tradelab. Véronique Morali, president of Fimalac’s digital media arm Webedia, told the FT the acquisition is part of a strategy to build a new agency group in the mould of Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital.

Brands Find Brand Safety Problems on Pornhub
Brands including Kraft Heinz and Unilever this week pledged to stop advertising on porn website Pornhub after a Sunday Times report highlighted their spending on the site. As DMEXCO attendees will well know, Pornhub has recently been pitching itself to advertisers willing to look beyond the taboo of advertising next to porn, and Unilever’s Dollar Shave Club and Kraft Heinz’s Devour brands have both run tailored ad campaigns on the site over the last year. But the Sunday Times report alleged that Pornhub hosts illegal content, including indecent images of children and footage of men performing sex acts in front of teenagers on buses. Both Kraft Heinz and Unilever have since pledged not to advertise on Pornhub, or similar site.

S4 Capital Reports 54 Percent Revenue Growth in Q3
Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital continued its rapid growth in Q3 according to its financial reports, woth revenues growing nearly 54 percent year on year to £56.6 million, bringing year-to-date revenue up to £144.6 million. Gross profits in Q3 meanwhile reached £42.1 million, marking 50 percent growth. The company credited growth to new business from Anheuser-Busch InBev, Coca-Cola, Sony Pictures, HP and Google among others.

ISBA Announces Launch of UK Cross Media Measurement Programme
UK advertiser trade body ISBA this week announced the launch of a UK Cross Media Measurement Programme, Origin, which it says will aim to achieve one of the first national executions of the global principles and approach for cross media audience measurement being developed by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

“It will be critical that the UK approach is consistent with global principles, especially in respecting consumer privacy and complying with current and future regulation in this area,” said ISBA director general Phil Smith. “We look forward to further discussions with broadcasters, publishers and UK JICs to establish how this can support and enhance existing media currencies.”

Hires of the Week

Bill Livek Takes Over as Comscore CEO
Comscore has chosen vice chairman Bill Livek to take over as chief executive officer, following the departure of Bryan Wiener back in March. Board member Dale Fuller has been acting as interim CEO since Wiener’s departure.

Innovid Chooses Wolfgang Kirschner to Lead European Expansion
Innovid has chosen Wolfgang Kirschner to lead its expansion across German, Austria and Switzerland. Kirschner’s role will be based out of Munich, and will involve building Innovid’s regional teams to support the company’s expansion.

This Week on VAN

DSP Viant Returns to Independence as Meredith Sells its Stake, read more on VAN

A ‘VAST’ Future for Video, read more on VAN

YouTube Helps Creators Diversify Beyond Ad Revenue with Super Stickers, read more on VAN

How are Broadcasters Faring with Shorter Formats, New Ad Pods and Shoppable TV? read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Boots, Bootique, Ogilvy


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