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The WIR: Channel 4 Plans an International AVOD Service, Facebook Unveils a Pair of Smart Glasses, and Roku Expands to Germany

Tim Cross 10 September, 2021 

In this week’s Week in Review: Channel 4 plans to launch an international AVOD service, Facebook launches a pair of smart glasses, and Roku expands into Germany.

Top Stories

Channel 4 Plans New International AVOD Service
Channel 4 is planning a new international AVOD service as part of its plans to expand beyond the UK. Channel 4 already has a subscription-based streaming service, called Walter Presents, which is a joint venture with Global Series Network and operates in territories like the US, Italy and Australia

Channel 4 chief executive officer, Alex Mahon said that the broadcaster was looking for ways to expand its reach outside of the UK. Mahon said the service may mirror Channel 4’s UK AVOD offering, All4. 

The move comes as Channel 4 executives try to argue against the privatisation of the public service broadcaster, something which the British Government have been arguing for.

Facebook Launches its First Smart Glasses
Facebook has showcased its first pair of  augmented reality smart glasses, made in collaboration with shades brand Ray-Ban, called Ray-Ban Stories. Ray-Ban Stories will be able to play music, take calls, and capture photos and short videos which can be shared to Facebook’s various platforms via a companion app. Ray-Ban Stories will start at $299.

Facebook’s play in the AR space has been long anticipated, given its existing investment in virtual reality through its ownership of Oculus Rift, a VR hardware manufacturer. But previous efforts at smart glasses from the likes of Snap haven’t really taken off – and privacy concerns have always been a sticking point for users.

Roku Launches in Germany
Roku announced this week that it would launch its streaming hardware in Germany, its second major European launch, competing with other players in the market like Amazon Fire TV Stick and Google Chromecast. Roku said it would launch its streaming players in Germany later this year, with ProSiebenSat.1, RTL and Sky among its launch partners.

Roku, one of the CTV platform market leaders in the US, has been steadily rolling out in Europe, starting with the UK. But it will face strong competition from fellow US leader Amazon, which already has a significant presence in Germany, as well as local leaders like Samsung TV.

The Week in Tech

Zeotap Raises A Further $11 Million in Funding
Customer data platform Zeotap has raised $11 million in Series C funding, bringing the total it has raised to $90 million. Investor group Liberty Global led the funding round. Zeotap had previously raised $43 million in July 2020 and $18 million in November 2020.

Amazon to Launch Its Own Smart-TV in the US
Amazon is launching its own branded TV, which could be released in the US as early as October. Amazon has previously launched an AmazonBasics TV in India, as well as launching its Fire TV sticks and smart boxes, but this is the first time it has produced a TV that will include its Fire products. Previously Amazon has partnered with manufacturers to make its Fire TV sticks and boxes; however, the new TV will be built by Amazon.

Media Ratings Council Says OTT Should Be Called CTV
The Media Ratings Council (MRC) has recategorised what it used to call Over-The-Top (OTT) as CTV. The definition, digital video that’s displayed on TV screens via internet-connected devices such as Roku or Amazon Fire, smart TVs and apps remains the same. The MRC are not completely doing away with the term OTT, with the term now used to refer to digital video going to any device, for example, watching Netflix on a phone would be considered OTT.

Google is Under a New Antitrust Investigation by the EU Over Voice Tech
Google is reportedly facing a new antitrust investigation by the EU, this time over the dominance of its voice assistant. The European Commission is looking into whether Google forces device manufacturers to use Google Assistant as its default voice assistant, reports news agency MLex.

IRIS.TV Partners With Plex to Introduce Contextual Advertising
AVOD platform Plex has partnered with video data platform IRIS.TV to bring contextually relevant ads to its streaming service. Plex is an AVOD service that allows access to live TV, broadcast channels and streaming music. It will partner with IRIS.TV to bring ads that are relevant to the context in which they are shown to its service.

Hawk Platform Partners With Skyrise Intelligence
Mobile advertising company, Hawk Platform (formerly TabMo) has partnered with Skyrise Intelligence, a platform that utilises telecoms data. Skyrise anonymises and aggregates the data so that it is privacy compliant. The two companies say that the partnership will facilitate effective audience targeting without the use of third-party cookies.

Innovid Expands Integration with IAS to Measure Media Quality Across CTV Ads
Innovid, an omni-channel advertising and analytics platform, this week announced an expanded integration with measurement and verification company Integral Ad Science (IAS) to support ad measurement and verification across its video campaigns, now including connected TV (CTV).

1plusX Expands Into the US
Data-management platform (DMP), 1plusX is expanding into the US and will be opening a New York office. 1plusX reports that a fifth of their revenue already comes from the US. The formal move into the market is also marked by the hire of Neil Smith as VP, Americas. Smith joins from FreeWheel, where he was head of global marketplace platform.

Smart Integrates With Oracle Contextual Intelligence
Ad tech platform Smart has announced that it is integrating with Oracle Contextual Intelligence. The two companies say that the collaboration will ensure that advertisers’ content is displayed in a brand suitable context. Oracle’s solution is now available within the smart platform and provides real-time content review and pre-bid classification.

The Week in TV

French Regulator President Calls TFL and M6 Merger A “Natural” Move
The president of the French media regulator, Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), Roch-Olivier Maistre has called the desire to merge French broadcasters TF1 and M6 a “natural” instinct that rises out of “a sort of cultural sovereignty”. Speaking at an advertising event, Maistre added that it was not the regulator’s role to “conserve and preserve the status quo”. The CSA is due to give its official view on the merger at the start of 2022.

NBC Makes Record Total of $6.5 Million From Super Bowl Ads
NBC has made a record amount from Super Bowl ads, selling the 30-second slots for $6.5 million. Dan Lovinger, executive vice president of advertising sales said that they were nearly sold out of ad slots for February’s Super Bowl LVI but were deliberately holding back a few slots. Elsewhere in NBC’s sports advertising sales, Lovinger said that ad slots for the Beijing Winter Olympics were at “near sell-out levels”.

Citizen Groups Urges FTC To Stop Amazon Acquiring MGM
A coalition of citizen groups has written to the Federal Trade Commission urging them to prevent the merger between Amazon and MGM. In their letter, the groups say that the merger “is not simply a one-off deal for streaming content; it is the latest move in Amazon’s overarching strategy to create numerous interconnected points of dominance over businesses and consumers”. The letter urges the FTC to block the $8.45 billion acquisition to slow Amazon’s digital dominance.

HBO Max to Become Available in Spain and the Nordics Next Month
HBO Max is to begin rolling out in Europe in October. The first European markets to have access to the streaming service will be Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra. HBO Max has confirmed that in 2022 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia will get access to the service, with more countries to be added later in the year.

Hulu Becomes One Dollar A Month More Expensive
Disney has raised the price of its Hulu streaming service by one dollar a month. Hulu has both an ad-supported and an ad-free tier, they will rise to $6.99/month and $12.99/month respectively. Disney has been pushing its streaming bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN Plus. Disney also recently hiked the price of Disney+, making the bundle look more attractive.

Netflix Will Keep BBFC Age Ratings
Netflix has said that it will continue to have British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) ratings on all of its content, following a trial of the age ratings. The age ratings are generated through an algorithm. The algorithm works through Netflix staff manually tagging things like violence or strong language in the content, these tags are then fed into the algorithm, which generates an age rating.

LG Ads Solutions Introduces New Smart TV Operating System, River OS
LG Ads Solutions has introduced a new smart TV operating system, River OS. The River OS system has personalisation, cross-app and device usage, and voice control features. River OS will be available on LG smart TVs in India by the end of 2021, and in the US and elsewhere in 2022. 

The Week in Publishing

TikTok Viewing Overtakes YouTube in UK and US
TikTok’s rapid ascent on the global social media landscape passed a significant milestone this week – app users in the UK and US now spend more time per-user on TikTok than on YouTube according to mobile analyst firm AppAnnie. YouTube is still ahead in overall viewing time though, since it still has more users in both markets.

Future Launches Audience Data Platform, Aperture
Future, a specialist media publisher, this week announced the launch of its Audience Data Platform, Aperture. The platform allows advertisers to access Future’s rich first-party audience data captured across its vast portfolio of brands, helping them reach high-intent target audiences. Future says Aperture will give advertisers a transparent, privacy compliant and future-proof solution, with access to rich first-party audience segments and new targeting capabilities across more than 180 of Future’s digital brands.

Australian High Court Says Media Companies Are Liable for Defamatory Comments on Their Facebook Posts
The Australian High Court has found that media companies are liable for defamatory comments that appear under their content on Facebook. Fairfax and News Corp had appealed a decision that they were liable for third-party comments on Facebook, but the High Court rejected this appeal 5-2. This means that the media companies could be held liable for allegedly defamatory comments about Dylan Voller, whose treatment in a youth detention centre in Australia led to a royal commission.

Microsoft Introduces Personalised News Feed, Microsoft Start
Microsoft is introducing a personalised news feed, called Microsoft Start. The newsfeed will be available both as an app and website, as well as being integrated into some of Microsoft’s products like Windows 10 and 11. The product will be similar to those offered by Google and Facebook. Microsoft says it builds on legacy products like MSN News.

Reddit Aiming To Hire Advisers For US IPO
Reddit is seeking to hire advisers, including investment bankers and lawyers, for a planned US initial public offering (IPO). In a private fundraising round last month, Reddit was valued at $10 billion, by the time the IPO takes place early next year the company hopes it will be worth $15 billion, sources say.

TikTok Has Been Serving Up Drugs and Sex Content to Minors, Investigation Finds
An investigation by the Wall Street Journal found that TikTok’s algorithm had been serving up explicit content to minors. The investigation used bot accounts, where the ages were set as young as 13, to test what sort of content was being served to them. The “13 year old” account searched for OnlyFans and was served a handful of videos promoting adult content on the subscription site. The account was then served up sexually-oriented content on their “For You” page.

Condé Nast Says Video Revenues are Booming
Condé Nast’s video production and distribution unit Condé Nast Entertainment is seeing strong growth, according to a report from The Information. The unit made $165 million in the US last year according to the report, and more overseas, and revenues are 30 percent higher so far this year.

Twitter Launches Super Follow Feature
Twitter has launched ‘Super Follow’, a new paid feature which lets specific Twitter users offer exclusive content to Super Followers. Users can set rates of  $2.99, $4.99 or $9.99 per month for Super Follows, which for now are only available in the US and Canada.

Reach Commits to 30 Percent Female Board by 2023
UK publisher Reach has committed to having at least 30 percent of its board and senior management by 2023 according to The Drum. Reach is already ahead of target for its board, which is 37.5 percent female, but needs to catch up on its senior executive committee which is 22 percent female.

The Week for Agencies

WPP Comes Out on Top in Unilever Media Review
WPP’s Mindshare has come out on top in Unilever’s review of its $3.3 billion media account. Mindshare will work across markets including the US, UK, China, and Italy, while being supported by Omnicom, IPG, and Havas in other specific markets.

S4 Capital Acquires Cashmere
S4 Capital continued its spending spree this week with the acquisition of Cashmere, an LA-based creative shop. Cashmere will merge with MediaMonks, S4’s creative arm. This acquisition is roughly the 25th since executive chairman Sir Martin Sorrell launched S4 three years ago, according to Sky.

The7stars Launches Acceleration Consultancy 13minutes
British indie agency the7stars has launched a new business acceleration consultancy called 13minutes, designed to help clients deliver “deeper and more connected communications through the use of advanced data and martech”. Pete Robins will act as chief executive, while Leena Vara-Patel has been appointed as managing director.

Accenture Interactive Acquires King James Group
Accenture this week announced the acquisition of King James Group, a creative agency network based in South Africa. This is Accenture Interactive’s first acquisition in Africa, according to The Drum, part of its plans to expand its presence in the African market.

Havas UK Offers 100 Entry-Level Jobs Through Government Kickstart Scheme
Havas UK is tripling the intake for its HKX Platform, its entry level scheme, thanks to assistance from the UK government’s Kickstart scheme. The Kickstart scheme provides funding for six-month placements for young people currently claiming Universal Credit. Havas UK says through the scheme, it will up its intake to 100.

Instacart Makes the Move to Retail Media
Online delivery service Instacart is making the move into retail media, making a push into online advertising according to the Wall Street Journal. “We have such a big opportunity,” Fidji Simo, Instacart’s chief executive officer, told the Journal. “The challenge is executing fast enough to capture it.”

US Ad Jobs Increased by 1,700 in August
US employment in advertising, public relations, and related services increased by 1,700 in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total US employment gains were the weakest since January, according to AdAge.

Hires of the Week

GSK Hires Simon Peel as Global Head of Media
GSK Consumer Healthcare has hired Simon Peel to head its media team as global head of media. Peel joins from Adidas, where he was senior director of global media.

Colm Murphy Joins Bloomberg as Global Head of Strategy
Bloomberg Media has hired Colm Murphy as its global head of strategy. Murphy’s previous role was at The&Partnership and its sister media agency, m/SIX, where he was chief strategy officer.

Anthony Jones Becomes Head of Research at Thinkbox
Anthony Jones will become head of research at Thinkbox. Jones was previously head of insight at the Association of Online Publishers (AOP).

Lucy Banks Joins TikTok as Head of Partnership Solutions, Global Business for Marketing
TikTok has poached one of YouTube’s execs, as Lucy Banks joins the company as head of partnership solutions, global business for marketing for Europe. Banks had been head of brand business development for YouTube EMEA. 

This Week on VideoWeek

Pay-to-Earn Games: Explained, read on VideoWeek

UK Data Authority Calls for G7 Action on Eliminating Cookie Pop-ups, read on VideoWeek

Is Nielsen’s Dominance of US TV Measurement Over? read on VideoWeek

Why AVOD Services Are Less Likely to Produce Emmy Winners, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

PlayStation, Play Has No Limits, Adam & Eve/DDB


About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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