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Week In Review: Nielsen Wants To Make Linear Addressable Happen, Disney+ Creates A Little Magic

1. Nielsen Wants To Make Linear Addressable Happen

Linear addressable has been about to happen for many years now. Everyone wanted it to–advertisers, networks and (probably, if they’d known what it was) consumers, but unfortunately the labyrinthine nature of the linear TV ecosystem made getting there about as easy as escaping from an actual labyrinth.

Why It Matters

One of the biggest issues holding up linear addressable was that there was no easy way to measure the ads. Nielsen’s system was designed to measure shows and the panel-based system could not easily take into account that several different ads might be playing in the same time slot.

This was an issue because “SASO” (single advertiser spot optimization… yet another head-scratching industry acronym) addressable buys–where say Ford buys a single spot and divides it up between ads for trucks, cars and minivans–were measurable, but “MASO” (multiple advertiser spot optimization)–Ford, Revlon and Mattel all buy different audience segments in a single ad slot–was not.

How Nielsen solved this may be even more notable than the fact that they did actually solve it. 

Rather than just rely on their panel-based measurement, they are adding in set top box data from Dish and Direct TV along with ACR data from VIZIO’s Inscape. They will eventually integrate these data sets with their panel-based data, because Nielsen’s panels offer what they call “person-based” measurement–rather than measuring the entire household, they are able to determine which household member(s) are actually watching. That’s a huge boon for anyone looking at attribution metrics and also adds value to the ACR and set top box data.

The other notable piece of Nielsen’s new plan is that they are going to be working with Project OAR to make linear addressable happen. Both Nielsen and Project OAR are rolling out systems that allow networks to insert addressable ads as overlays, using ACR data from smart TVs.

Ad buyers were concerned that having two competing systems would lead to additional complexity and confusion, so news that they are joining forces–at least on measurement–has been well received.

What You Need To Do About It

If you are Nielsen, take a bow, this was a huge feat to pull off, especially in the middle of a pandemic, and it will benefit the industry in the long run.

If you are Project OAR, take a bow as well–working with, rather than against Nielsen will only help everyone to succeed and you’ve really been doing a stellar job driving the whole linear addressable thing.

If you’re an advertiser, you’ve got what you wanted, now it’s time to pony up and start putting real money into addressable. 

If you’re a network, remember that the other big issue holding advertisers back is the perception that addressable is too expensive, that it’s more cost effective to just buy the whole spot. So price your ads accordingly.

If you’re thinking “well who cares about linear, it’s all going away soon anyway,” remember that TV is usually the exception to the maxim that “change happens slowly and then all at once” (in TV it just happens slowly) and that many of the systems that work on linear can be used to make it easier to buy OTT, especially the linear-like channels the FASTs are setting up.

2. Disney+ Creates A Little Magic

Disney had a really bad quarter, what with theme parks, cruises, theatrical films, sports and network TV making up large chunks of their revenue stream.

The only bright spot was Disney+, which now has close to 74 million subscribers worldwide, though to be fair, Hulu and ESPN+ showed impressive gains as well.

Why It Matters

While Disney’s overall losses were bad, they were not as catastrophic as many had predicted, and the success of Disney+ has to be giving them some succor. 

More than any other Flix, it seems to have figured out early on what it wants to be and the type of programming it wants to have. It’s been a godsend for all my friends with small children during the pandemic and the adult programming has definitely struck a chord with people who like superheroes and Star Wars.

So there’s that and the $7 price tag that means if you just watch one show a month, the service is probably worth keeping.

Hulu is also holding its own, up to almost 37 million subs, of which, an impressive 4.1 million are via its vMVPD service Hulu Live TV. 

That’s over one million more subs than YouTube TV, which is the number two vMVPD,  though I’ll be curious what both services numbers look like now that they’ve broken up with Sinclair’s RSNs.

Overall this leaves Disney is a very strong number two spot amongst the Flixes exactly one year after the launch of Disney+, with a strong brand and none of the hassles with Roku and Amazon that have plagued its competitors.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re Disney, continue with the overseas expansion–you’ve got a strong and well-loved brand name and that will really work to your advantage in new markets.

If you’re one of the other Flixes, remember that Disney is a special case in that it’s been building the Disney brand for over 70 years now and not just via TV. That’s why comparing yourselves to them is not fair–just chart your own course and figure out what it is you want to be when you grow up.

If you’re the parent of a small child, just be glad, as we seemingly go into a new phase of lockdowns, that your kids can watch Frozen and Mulan on Disney+ over and over and over and over again.