Well-known industry analyst Alan Wolk is publishing his popular Week In Review columns first on FierceVideo every Friday. This means that FierceVideo readers are the first to get all Wolk's insights as they navigate the fast-moving television business.
1. VCBS Will Launch A Flix After All
CNBC’s Alex Sherman broke the news yesterday that VCBS is planning to launch its own Flix.
This is not all that unexpected—the bets were that post-merger, they’d take their existing properties— CBS All Access, Showtime, Pluto et al, and make them into The Eighth Mega Flix.
Why it matters
CBS All Access has 10 million subscribers (well, 10 million when combined with Showtime), but more importantly, it has more than five years of experience in running an OTT service. Meaning it had time to iron out all of the various kinks, tech and otherwise.
Details are sketchy since there’s been no official announcement, but CNBC is reporting that the service will be a hybrid model (ad free and ad supported), that there will be a premium version that includes Showtime, and that the main service will combine CBS All Access with Pluto TV, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures (which will of course be pulling its movies back from the other Flixes).
I listed all of those various sources because it highlights a key reason I think VCBSFlix is going to do well: it’s got a lot of programming that people really like.
All those Nick shows from the ’90s. All those MTV and VH1 shows from the ’80s and ’90s. All those BET and Comedy Central shows from the past 40 years. All those Paramount movies.
And that’s before you throw in CBS and Showtime.
So it’s the old quality-beats-quantity play, and I will guarantee that is 100% going to baffle all those guys on Wall Street.
[Side note: The one thing I am slightly baffled about myself though, is why they leased a bunch of their more popular Nick content (SpongeBob) to Netflix. Maybe they thought that giving people more places to watch SpongeBob was a good marketing tool for Nick content in general, but that’s just a wild guess. No one I’ve talked to has a solid theory either beyond that it was a “one hand didn’t know what the other was doing” type of play that is all too common for companies mid-merger.
What you need to do about it
If you’re one of the other Flixes, you’ve got a strong new competitor on your hands, so tread carefully.
If you’re the ad industry, this is good news as it means one more ad-supported Flix (or semi-ad-supported, as the case may be), which gives you more eyeballs and more ad units and hence more ad dollars.
If you’re a consumer, this is a good thing as you don’t have to worry about managing all those different apps now, plus Pluto gives you something that looks a lot like linear.
If you’re a cable network without a strong audience, this should scare you big time, as it’s one more reason viewers will have to cut the cord, or at least reduce their traditional pay TV subscription down to the bare minimum.
Finally, if you’re a v/MVPD (or Amazon, Apple and Roku), time to do a slight revision to those Great Rebundling plans as you’ve now got another service to add to your Great Big Bundle Of Flixes.
2. 605 enters the measurement arena
Ad tech firm 605 announced this week that it was actually going to be doing that thing that everyone keeps saying the industry should be doing, namely combining set-top box data and ACR data into a brand new measurement standard.
Why it matters
The new product, named 605 Platf0rm, combines set-top box data from Charter Spectrum (among others) with ACR data from Inscape. That gives the company 100% matching rights against 21 million households across 210 DMAs (designated market area, e.g., the metropolitan area of a city big enough to have TV station.)
So in other words, a very good start.
To go much deeper into the weeds for my fellow ad tech measurement geeks, they are aware of and are accounting for the overlap between ACR and set-top box data within individual households, so that they have “whole home” measurement.
In addition to having yet another way to measure ads, the new product helps with a number of things the industry should care more about, attribution, in particular, since 605 Platf0rm comes pre-loaded with third party data sets and allows brands to import and make use of their own first party data sets.
(And if that all sounds like a foreign tongue to you, check out our report on The State of Addressable TV Advertising which explains how it works, why, how, who and what’s next.)
But mostly the launch of 605 Platf0rm matters because it’s something the industry has been talking about for a while now (combining different measurement input sources) and because now that someone’s taken the first step, others are sure to follow.
What you need to do about it
If you’re an advertiser or ad agency, definitely check out what 605 has created. Even if you wind up not using it, it’s a great glimpse into what the future of measurement is going to look like, regardless of who is doing the actual measuring.
If you’re another ad measurement service or involved in ad measurement in any way, this is a challenge—there’s more to be done and more households need to be incorporated into these sample sizes, so that we have both simplicity and scale—if there was one key takeaway from the Beet Retreat conference I was at this week, it’s that the TV ad industry needs (craves?) simplicity and scale, and as the landscape shifts, whoever can solve that (and it’s going to be a lot of whoevers, no one company can make this happen on their own) is going to be the winner.
Or to paraphrase Ben Franklin, the various players in the TV ecosystem will all need to hang together, or they will all hang separately.