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Week In Review: VIZIO Launches An Ad Network, NBCU Still Figuring Out Peacock

1. VIZIO Launches An Ad Network

VIZIO, one of the top TV OEMs in the US (and the only one that is actually made in the US) announced that it would be launching its own ad network, selling ads on shows that ran on SmartCast, its proprietary smart TV operating system. 

Why It Matters

Given that both Roku and Amazon are getting into the TV OEM game, it makes sense for TV OEMs to get into the ad game. 

Roku controls slightly less than one-third of the US market right now (in terms of TVs using its operating system) and they’re making a small fortune on ad revenue as a result. Amazon isn’t all that far behind—they’re rolling out the Fire TV OS on Best Buy’s Insignia brand TV. 

So VIZIO is smart to claim their share of that same pie—the ads all of these streaming device manufacturers are selling are those that run on the FASTS, Free As-Supported Streaming TV Services like Pluto, Tubi and Xumo and by placing an emphasis on improving its interface, VIZIO can ensure that people are watching via its platform rather than buying an additional device, thus keeping all that potential ad revenue for itself.

Advertisers like OTT/CTV buys these days because they allow them to achieve incremental reach, hitting viewers they have missed (or more often, who missed them) on their linear buys. 

VIZIO’s special sauce here is that they have a world of data from Inscape, their wholly owned subsidiary that collects ACR data from 13 million opted in VIZIO TVs. That data allows them to better target viewers and to better understand their viewing patterns.

Plus they don’t have to pay for it.

What You Need To Do About It

VIZIO isn’t only TV OEM selling ads—both Samsung and LG do as well, they just have not been as vocal about it.

So if you’re LG and Samsung, step one would be getting the word out and making a better splash about what you’re up to. A rising tide floats all boats and all that.

If you’re a consumer—step one is to celebrate. 

One of the upsides of VIZIO and other TV OEMs selling advertising is that it allows them to use some of the profit to offset the cost of the TV. (And the more TVs they sell, the more ad revenue they make.)

So you’re going to be paying less for your next TV set.

Score!

(Just make sure to watch a few ads on it to keep the karma flowing.)

2. NBCU Still Figuring Out Peacock

Either NBCU is taking a wait-and-see attitude to Peacock or they’ve figured it out and they’re just not telling anyone. 

We’re thinking the former, which is not the end of the world—waiting to see where everyone else lands is not a bad strategy, especially in the midst of all the streaming wars madness.

Why It Matters

In reporting on where NBCU’s head was at, the Wall Street Journal noted that “In the various pricing tiers Comcast is still considering, one idea would be to offer a limited, free version with ads meant to attract customers, although it might not have certain hit shows or might offer only a limited number of episodes. Another option would be a modest subscription fee with all content available with ads, and a third possibility would be a modest subscription fee without advertising.” 

Which means the only option they’ve more or less ruled out is giving it all away for free.

Like AT&T and HBO Max, they’re trying to figure out how to keep the other MVPDs in the equation, since those MVPDs carry all of their linear programming and they don’t want to fully piss them off and tank that part of their business.

OTOH, both companies need to remember that consumers are actual people with feels and needs and that a platform that doesn’t give them the same hit shows that their friends and neighbors are watching is not a platform anybody even remotely wants. 

If we had to guess, they’ll likely wind up with a hybrid model like everyone else, with an ad-lite version and an ad-free one at different price points, with MVPD customers getting the ad-lite version as part of their subscription, with the understanding that NBCU gets their viewership data and the ability to run cross-platform buys and use Peacock (and Freewheel) to give advertisers incremental reach.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an MVPD that’s not named Comcast, you need to steer NBCU towards the aforementioned price structure and away from something that “might not have certain hit shows or might offer only a limited number of episodes.”

That would be a bad move.

If you’re NBCU, there’s nothing wrong with waiting to see how it all shakes out. That way you’ll avoid making the same rookie mistakes and there will be more buzz for you when you do eventually launch, since everyone’s been waiting. That’s a good place to be in and if you can back it up with shows people actually want to watch, shows that seem to be unique enough so that people think “oh, that’s what Peacock is all about,” that would be even better.