Comcast opens cable box VOD content to programmatic ads

Last month, Comcast reported a 50% uptick in VOD usage. (Comcast)

Comcast Technology Solutions and FreeWheel, Comcast’s ad tech division, are working together to allow for programmatic ad buys on set-top box VOD inventory.

The solution should connect STB VOD content to other inventory sold programmatically across connected TV and digital video channels. The companies are doing this by combining FreeWheel’s ad decision engine with the ad creative distribution capabilities of Comcast Technology Solutions’ Ad Store, which they said will provide creative conditioning and distribution to all STB VOD MVPD end points.

“Video-on-demand content has skyrocketed in importance in terms of video viewership, as consumers flock to the engaged, big-screen viewing environment in their own living rooms. However, until today, it has not been possible to effectively monetize this content in the same programmatic fashion as other video inventory,” said Richard Nunn, vice president and general manager of advertiser solutions at Comcast Technology Solutions, in a statement. “By enabling unified programmatic auctions and seamless distribution of ad assets across all inventories including STB VOD, we are helping programmers and distributors open up new opportunities for advertisers.”

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“Our key goal is to ensure buyers and sellers can seamlessly transact across all content types and allow for our robust data and decisioning capabilities to work wherever viewers are watching premium video. Working with Comcast Technology Solutions to bring Set-Top Box VOD into the mix is an enormous step forward,” said Dave Clark, general manager at FreeWheel, in a statement. “Allowing programmatic, marketplace access to this growing viewership segment will open new sources of growth to our supply-side clients, and just as importantly, will allow advertisers to tap into this premium, living room quality content as part of their unified video strategy.”

The new solution comes at an opportune time when pay TV VOD content is seeing boosts in engagement due to the pandemic. According to a recent consumer survey conducted by The Diffusion Group (TDG), 77% of adult broadband users who subscribe to a pay TV service watch shows and movies through the service's on-demand feature and of those, 60% report spending more time watching on-demand programming while under stay at home orders.

Last month, Comcast reported a 50% uptick in VOD usage.