THE WIR: Roku to Produce Own Smart TVs, YouTube Scores NFL Rights, and Twitter Reverses Ban on Political Ads

Dan Meier 06 January, 2023 

In this week’s Week in Review: Roku starts making its own TVs, YouTube gets in the sports rights game, and Twitter relaxes its policy on political ads.

Top Stories

Roku Unveils Own Brand of Smart TVs, TiVO to Power TV Sets
Roku has joined the ranks of streaming companies with their own branded smart TVs, unveiling the new range at CES 2023. The Roku OS already powers other manufacturers’ TV sets, as well as being a leading provider of streaming boxes and dongles in the US, but as of Spring it will offer Roku Select and Roku Plus Series TVs. “These Roku-branded TVs will not only complement the current lineup of partner-branded Roku TV mode, but also allow us to enable future smart TV innovations,” said Roku devices president Mustafa Ozgen. “The streaming revolution has only just begun.”

Unlike existing platforms, which are largely built around walled gardens, we enable TV OEMs to brand the experience, retain customer ownership and participate in the long-term CTV monetisation throughout the lifecycle of TV ownership,” said Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner.

YouTube Wins NFL Sunday Ticket Rights
YouTube has signed a $14 billion, seven-year deal for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, beating out front-runner Apple for the rights held by DirecTV since 1994. The arrangement brings most Sunday afternoon games to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels, both of which are paid subscription services.

The agreement marks another sports rights victory for big tech against their traditional home on pay-TV. With this latest deal, the Google-owned business joins Apple and Amazon in multi-billion-dollar plays for major sports, as cord-cutting hits the satellite sector. According to the Wall Street Journal, former rights holder DirecTV has shed over 6.5 million subscribers in the last five years, and had been losing around $500 million annually on the Sunday Ticket package.

With YouTube, the NFL hopes to get younger viewers to follow the league. “It is a site where a lot of Gen Z goes to get content,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He added in a statement: “For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans.”

Twitter Reverses Ban on Political Ads
Twitter will relax its ban on political advertising, as part of Elon Musk’s efforts to increase the social media firm’s ad revenues. The ban came into effect in 2019 when then-CEO Jack Dorsey said political influence should be “earned, not bought.” On Tuesday Twitter announced plans to “expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks.”

The reversal dovetails with Musk’s proposed reinstatement of banned Twitter accounts, including Kanye West and Donald Trump, thought to be among the reasons for advertisers’ trepidation around the new ownership. This week also saw an additional 40 layoffs in the company’s data science and engineering sectors, having already lost more than three-quarters of its staff since Musk’s takeover.

The Week in Tech

Warner Bros. Discovery Strikes Measurement Deal with VideoAmp
Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has partnered with measurement company VideoAmp, which will measure cross-screen campaigns across WBD’s entertainment brands. The deal comes ahead of the 2023 upfronts season, representing a move away from Nielsen’s formerly ubiquitous TV currency. “The industry needs a better way to measure and transact on audiences,” said VideoAmp CEO Ross McCray, “one that accounts for cross-platform, supports both traditional and advanced audiences and provides attribution metrics in a manner that enables media sellers and buyers to unlock this potential and excel in a competitive environment.”

DoubleVerify Earns MRC Accreditation for Attention Metrics
Verification specialist DoubleVerify (DV) has received Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for its DV Authentic Attention metrics. The measurement product tracks attention across desktop, mobile web and mobile apps. “Earning MRC accreditation for DV Authentic Attention, in an environment where ad dollars are increasingly scrutinized for accountability, advances our commitment to develop independent media quality and performance solutions that drive campaign outcomes for our global brand customers,” said DV CEO Mark Zagorski.

Amazon to Lose 5 Percent of Workforce
Amazon will lose around 5 percent of its staff in the latest round of layoffs to hit the tech sector. According to the Wall Street Journal, the redundancies will mostly affect the “corporate ranks”, losing around 18,000 employees. “Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so,” said Amazon CEO Andy Jassy.

EU Watchdog Fines Meta for Data Misuse in Personalised Advertising
Meta has been fined €390 million by the Irish Data Protection Commission for GDPR violations in its personalised advertising. The EU ruling, as reported by VideoWeek, found that Meta “is not entitled to rely on the ‘contract’ legal basis in connection with the delivery of behavioral advertising” on Facebook and Instagram. The tech giant has three months to bring its data practices in line with the regulation.

Scope3 Brings Carbon-Neutral Media to Yahoo SSP
Yahoo will offer carbon-neutral private marketplace (PMP) media on its SSP, in conjunction with Scope3. The pairing allows advertisers to buy Scope3’s “Green Media Products”, in order to align their digital ad campaigns with broader sustainability objectives. “By offering access to Scope3’s Green Media Products directly in platform, Yahoo is giving brands around the world a simple and standardised way to shift their buying behaviour in favour of more sustainable media while helping ensure responsible publishers continue to thrive,” said Brenda Tuohig, head of global and strategic partnerships at Scope3.

Ampersand Launches Addressable TV Product
Ampersand has unveiled an addressable TV functionality, designed to streamline workflow between buyers and sellers. The privacy-centric tool automates the planning of addressable campaigns using aggregated data.
“Advertisers spent over $2 billion domestically on addressable TV ads over the past few years and are expected to double their spending by the end of 2023,” said Kalyan Lanka, VP of Product Management at Ampersand. “By consolidating and streamlining the ability to find custom audiences all in a single interface, we will allow advertisers to reach any audience across any screen, within a highly engaged context.”

Nielsen ONE Gets Launch Date
Measurement giant Nielsen announced a launch date for its cross-platform offering Nielsen ONE Ads. The product will be available in the US on 11th January, providing a deduplicated view of ads across screens: linear, CTV, desktop and mobile. The system offers measurement of content and ads by the second, as opposed to the industry standard minute level. “This will provide the industry with greater comparably [sic] across television and digital platforms,” the company said. Read more on VideoWeek.

Google, Bing Scramble Over Implications of Viral AI Tool ChatGPT 
OpenAI’s ChatGPT has allegedly raised alarm bells at Google, as the tech giant fears AI chat will replace search engines. Google is at “code red” over the technology, according to 9to5Google, while Microsoft prepares to launch its own AI-based version of Bing. The viral tool’s developer OpenAI is reportedly in talks with venture capital firms with an eye to raise up to $30 billion.

Blockboard Unlocks FreeWheel’s CTV Inventory
Comcast-owned FreeWheel has teamed up with ad tech firm Blockboard to make its CTV inventory available to the latter’s advertising clients. The pair noted the supply path optimisation (SPO) opportunities the deal grants for the demand side. “By teaming up, we can provide a more streamlined supply path to marketers, while reducing waste, friction and inefficiency, all while delivering a better experience to consumers,” said Greg Joseph, Head of DSP Partnerships at FreeWheel.

French Regulator Fines Apple Over Targeted Ads in App Store
French privacy watchdog CNIL has fined Apple €8 million for bypassing user consent when serving personalised ads in the App Store. The regulator found that iPhone settings had targeting permissions pre-checked by default. “We are disappointed with this decision given the CNIL has previously recognised that how we serve search ads in the App Store prioritises user privacy, and we will appeal,” said Apple.

Criteo Announces Preferred Relationship CTV Deal with Magnite
Commerce media company Criteo on Thursday announced a preferred relationship deal with SSP Magnite. The partnership enables Criteo’s retail partners to access Magnite’s CTV inventory, helping them extend their audiences off-site into addressable CTV environments. “Retail media is moving up the marketing funnel, and we’ll see CTV and closed-loop measurement converge this year,” said Criteo CRO Brian Gleason. “Together, Magnite’s brand-safe, best-in-class CTV inventory and Criteo’s powerful in-market, Commerce Audiences will bring meaningful, measurable results to retailers, driving more revenue.”

The Week in TV

Shoppable TV Ads More Likely to Lead to Purchase Than Social
Around half of adults recall seeing shoppable ads on TV, according to Aluma, 39 percent of which have engaged with such ads. The report found that engagement with shoppable ads featured in social media video is 21 percent higher than shoppable TV ads. But the amount of “engagers” who purchased a featured product is 10 percent higher for TV than social video. They also prefer to buy products from large retail brands, such as Amazon or Walmart, than device manufacturers or broadband/pay-TV providers. “Contemporary t-commerce is Big Retail’s game to lose,” said Aluma senior analyst Doug Montgomery.

Hollywood Confronts a Bleak Outlook for 2023
Hollywood executives are braced for a “year of turmoil”, media investors have told the FT. The report cites economic recession, streaming plateaus and “a cinema industry on life support” as factors in the “bloodbath” to come in 2023. Meanwhile a potential writers’ strike could add to the “brutal” outlook for Hollywood, according to media analysts.beIN Media Group has struck a deal with the French Football Federation (FFF) to broadcast all men’s Coupe de France football matches and a selection of women’s matches until 2026.

beIN Scores Coupe de France Rights
beIN Media Group has struck a deal with the French Football Federation (FFF) to show all men’s Coupe de France matches until 2026, alongside select women’s games. The Qatari broadcaster said the agreement brings French football to more than 30 territories. “The length of this deal shows beIN’s commitment to the FFF,” said Richard Verow, chief sports officer at beIN Media Group.

UK Government to Scrap Channel 4 Privatisation
The proposed privatisation of Channel 4 has been scrapped, the UK Government has confirmed. Writing to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Donelan recommended that the plans be shelved, in favour of “better ways” to safeguard the channel’s future. “After reviewing the business case, I have concluded that pursing a sale at this point is not the right decision,” she wrote. Read more on VideoWeek.

iPlayer Reports Record Festive Figures
BBC iPlayer received “record numbers” over the festive period, according to the broadcaster. Streaming figures for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day showed more than 25 percent YoY growth, with EastEnders, The Traitors and Sam Ryder Rocks New Year’s Eve among the most-watched titles. “Over the festive season, audiences chose the BBC in record-breaking numbers on BBC iPlayer and Sounds for our world-class content signalling a brilliant start to 2023 on the BBC,” said BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore.

Streamers and Broadcasters Pull Back on Content Spending
Media companies’ spending on original content will see a significant slowdown this year, according to Ampere Analysis, bringing an end to a decade of surging content budgets. The last 10 years saw global content spend almost double, from $128 billion to $243 billion, as deep-pocketed streaming companies splashed out on original content to feed their growing user bases. But 2022 saw subscriber churn at Netflix for the first time, a trend unlikely to be reversed in the near future. Ampere expects original content spend to fall by 3 percent this year, with spending growth predicted to drop from 6 percent in 2022 to 2 percent in 2023. Read more on VideoWeek.

Italy Sheds 287,000 SVOD Subs
Italy lost 287,000 SVOD subscribers last year, according to AGCOM’s September 2022 figures, bringing its total to 15.3 million subs. Disney+ had the most YoY growth at 41.7 percent, followed by Amazon at 11.5 percent and Netflix at 4.2 percent. AGCOM suggested the time spent by users across these platforms fell by 15.3 percent since September 2021.

Free-to-Air Viewing in Spain Hits 30-Year Low
Free-to-air (FTA) viewing hit a 30-year low in Spain in 2022, Barlovento Comunicación has revealed. Last year, FTA viewing was down 11 percent YoY, pay-TV up by 14 percent and streaming up by 17 percent. Meanwhile the TV ad market fell by 5 percent to €1.7 billion, according to the consultancy firm.

The Week for Publishers

Digital Publishing Revenues Jeopardise Local News
Digital publishing revenues are falling short of requisite funding levels for local news, Press Gazette has found. The research noted increased consolidation among regional publishers in attempts to stay afloat, including Newsquest’s takeover of Archant in 2022. National World also expressed interest in acquiring Reach last year before pulling away from the deal. Reach owns 35 of the 50 biggest UK regional news brands online, based on Ipsos audience data, representing the largest unduplicated digital audience with 122.5 million visitors across its brands. This is followed by National World at 16.3 million people, and Newsquest on 12.8 million.

AOP Joins GetZeN and Right Thing Media in ESG Efforts
The Association of Online Publishers (AOP) this week announced partnerships with GetZeN and Right Thing Media, intended to support the digital publishing community’s ESG efforts. GetZeN will offer AOP members discounted access to its wellness programmes, while Right Thing Media provides a framework and Charter for AOP members’ collaborative sustainability strategies. “A successful ESG strategy is holistic, encompassing all the ways in which a company can positively affect people, society, and the planet,” said AOP MD Richard Reeves. “This is a lot to take on, so an ongoing focus for AOP is to find ways to simplify ESG initiatives for our members.”

Guardian Offices Remain Shut After Ransomware Attack
The Guardian offices are to remain closed until 23rd January following a suspected ransomware attack. Employees have been working remotely since the cyberattack hit the publisher’s IT systems on 20th December. “A number of key systems have been taken offline and remain unavailable,” Guardian Media Group chief executive Anna Bateson told staff on Monday.

The Independent Enlists Former Mail Editor Geordie Greig
Former Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig has been named editor-in-chief of The Independent. Greig was allegedly ousted at the Mail in what sources called a “power grab” by MailOnline editor Martin Clarke. He joins the Lebedev-owned outlet as it expands into the US and invests in video content on Independent TV, which claims to generate 72 million views per month.

News UK Signs Content Deal with Local TV
News UK-owned TalkTV will share content with Leeds-based Local TV, as per a new agreement between the British news organisations. The deal sees TalkTV provide exclusive programming across Local TV’s eight channels. “TalkTV is reaching more and more people when and where they want to view our content; whether that be online, via the app, social media, streaming services or on linear TV,” said Richard Wallace, Head of TV at News UK Broadcasting. “This partnership allows us to bring a national perspective to Local TV’s brilliant hyper-focused content on Freeview and Virgin Media.”

The Week For Agencies

WARC Slashes Ad Spend Forecast, Retail Media Defies Slowdown
WARC has reduced its global ad spend forecast by $90 billion, as marketers react to economic and geopolitical crises, putting its latest forecast at $880.9 billion for 2022 and 2023. Retail media is set to defy the slowdown, representing the fourth-largest medium by ad spend, with global investment set to reach $121.9 billion in 2023. This puts it on course to become more valuable to advertisers than linear TV in 2025, according to WARC and GroupM.

Trade Bodies Welcome Scrapping of Channel 4 Privatisation
UK advertising trade bodies welcomed the government’s U-turn on Channel 4 privatisation this week, axing the controversial sale set into motion by former culture secretary Nadine Dorries. “Advertisers overwhelmingly opposed the sale because they value Channel 4’s diverse audience and because of competition concerns which could arise from broadcaster consolidation,” said ISBA director general Phil Smith. He added that changing viewing habits “mean that the TV advertising model must evolve – and that audience reach must be measured effectively.” Meanwhile IPA director general Paul Bainsfair noted that the “symbiotic relationship of Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) and independent production ecosystem is underpinned by advertising.”

Hires of the Week

Apple TV+ Hires Disney+ Marketing Head Ricky Strauss
Apple TV+ has named Ricky Strauss as its new head of marketing, marking renewed emphasis on Apple’s streaming division. Strauss previously spent nine years at Disney, most recently as president of content and marketing for Disney+.

UKTV Promotes Nick Gilmer to Marketing Director
UKTV has promoted Nick Gilmer to the position of marketing director, having overseen brand refreshes for Dave and W since his appointment in 2021. He will lead marketing for UKTV’s linear broadcast network and streaming service UKTV Play.

Teads’ Monique Pintarelli Promoted to President, North America
Monique Pintarelli has been promoted to President, North America at Teads. She joined the ad tech  firm in 2018 as SVP West Coast Sales, before becoming CRO in 2022. The company noted that 62 percent of Teads’ leadership are female, 33 percent above industry average.

This Week on VideoWeek

Streamers and Broadcasters Are Pulling Back on Content Spending, read on VideoWeek

UK Government to Scrap Channel 4 Privatisation, read on VideoWeek

Nielsen ONE Gets Launch Date as Ratings Giant Seeks to Reclaim its Throne, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

Loto, Would you tell if you won the lottery?, BETC Paris

Follow VideoWeek on Twitter and LinkedIn.


About the Author:

Reporter at VideoWeek.
Go to Top