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Week In Review: Cable Goes Addressable, Locast Goes To California

1. Cable Goes Addressable

Open AP, recently rebranded as Open AP 2.0, appears to be rapidly making its way back from its previous Left For Dead After The Departure Of Warner Media state.  The group announced a significant deal with NCC, a company that packages most of the VOD inventory for Comcast, Charter and Cox. In related news, Comcast urged Charter and Cox to join them in making cable advertising great again, or something to that effect. (I’m paraphrasing.)

Why It Matters

While no one used the word “addressable” outright, the assumption is that by making use of Open AP’s segments, NCC will begin selling those specific segments, as opposed to shows that index heavily against those segments.

But really, you never know with these things.

The difference is that the former (selling those specific segments, aka “addressable” aka “targeted”) means that there will be unsold audience segments left over and that those segments will need to be sold programmatically (aka “via automated systems”) and that the whole process of buying MVPD advertising on VOD will enter the 21st century.

But, if it’s the latter, e.g., an “indexed” system, then it’s just the same old crap in a new container—with indexed, advertisers are buying shows that have more viewers in their desired segments, but they’re still buying 100% of the audience, regardless. And ad agencies rightly claim they’ve been giving brands that sort of indexing information for decades anyway, so it’s not like it’s anything special.

So let’s assume it’s Door #1, addressable, which then opens the door (see what I did there) for networks to use Open AP 2.0 to plan addressable buys, a proposition made all the more interesting by the rapid growth of Project OAR, which uses Inscape’s ACR data to insert addressable ads as overlays on VIZIO smart TVs. And which now has every major network, agency group plus Xandr and Comcast-owned Freewheel involved.

So there’s all that, which would seem to imply that addressable is going to happen sooner rather than later, and Comcast’s press release that they’ve urged Comcast and Cox to join them in promoting their “On Addressability” initiative, focused on building a “sound, scalable and sustainable addressable” advertising solution for television.

At least they didn’t call it a Five Year Plan.

What You Need To About It

If you’re a TV network or MVPD, you need to get on the stick already about addressable rather than trying to find ways to avoid it. Yes, it’s scary, yes it likely means you’ll have to do more work and yes, it likely means that you’ll need to sell some of that inventory programmatically, but the 21st century is texting and you need to reply.

If you’re a brand, you need to push the networks and agencies harder about this. Just tell them how much Google and Facebook are doing about brand safety and fraud and how easy it is to only reach your target audience that way. That should be enough to scare them.

If you’re anyone involved in advertising, remember that not every ad is a direct response or retail ad, and that image ads and product ads are an important piece of the puzzle and will have a different place in an addressable universe.

And did I mention TV[R]EV was doing a special report on addressable TV advertising? Hit us up via this email for details about sponsorships.

2. Locast Goes To California

Locast is a low-key alternative to Aereo, which was a Big Idea Ahead Of Its Time.

For those of you with short memories, Aereo was a plan where viewers paid to “rent antennas” that then sent them broadcast TV over the interwebs.

Since broadcast networks make billions from the retransmission deals they have with MVPDs, they were not about to take that lying down and sued in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which basically said that those air quotes around “rent antennas” meant something wasn’t kosher and that Aereo needed to pack it in.

But that decision was rendered in June 2014, pretty much a lifetime ago in TV time.

Now we’ve got Locast, which I keep wanting to call Lojack or even Bojack, but their deal is that they’re a non-profit, so they just “suggest” you pay $5/month for the service, hey, no pressure bro.

It’s actually a well-designed service that works well and delivers a very sharp looking picture and doesn’t constantly try and hit you up for those five bucks. At least not here in the swamps of Jersey. Or the not-very-tall hills. Take your pick. (Lots of inside jokes on that one. Apologies.)

And now they’ve expanded into San Francisco and Los Angeles

Why It Matters

For starters, lots of people live in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Especially people involved in the TV business.

So there’s that.

There’s also the fact that post-Flixcopalypse, a lot of people are going to start wondering why they’re paying for “cable” when all they watch is Flixes. And so Flixes + Lojack might be the answer and we might start to see Lojack grow rapidly, at which point someone is sure to sue them.

Only in 2021, the court case may not be so cut and dry.

Because, as our friends at Fierce Video remind us, there’s a copyright statute that allows non-profit translator services to rebroadcast local stations without receiving a copyright license from the broadcaster.

No air quotes.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an MVPD or vMVPD you might think about offering a super-skinny bundle soon enough, one that just has local broadcast, with add-ons for cable news and sports.

If you’re in LA or the Bay Area, definitely download Locast and check it out.

If you’re a broadcast network, be afraid.

Be very afraid.