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WEEK IN REVIEW:  AT&T Introduces Xandr, Fox Sells The Rest Of Sky To Comcast

1. AT&T Introduces Xandr,

AT&T, having completed its purchase of AppNexus, introduced a brand new ad platform it called “Xandr” (get it—Alexander Graham Bell started AT&T, Xandr/Alexander. Yup.) It’s a mashup of AT&T’s advanced TV business, AT&T AdWorks + AT&T’s data and analytics business + ATT.net + AppNexus.

Why It Matters

Xandr is being pitched as an alternative to The Duopoly and while much of what was pitched is still in the “we’ll be able to do X” category, there was a fairly significant announcement in that Xandr has signed deals with Frontier and Altice to start selling their addressable linear ad inventory. It’s the start of what they hope to make the “foundation of a national TV marketplace … to provide advertisers with a one-stop shop.”

The one-stop shop thing is key, as that’s long been the problem with buying addressable advertising on TV: each MVPD has its own platform with its own definitions for what constitutes the various audience segments advertisers are buying, and its own system for buying and selling inventory. This makes it infinitely more difficult for brands to pull off national buys and so they frequently just doubled down on a single MVPD or, worse, gave up on addressable altogether. (That, or they called up Mike Bologna and Jamie Power at One2One and let them figure it out.) 

That’s a problem though, in that the ability to better provide better targeting is one of the key advantages that digital has over TV and the industry needs to be able to capitalize on it. Especially since the shift to digital delivery (e.g., vMVPDs) is now making addressable even more feasible from a technical standpoint, but without a solid “one stop shop” way of buying it, advertisers will not climb on board.

AT&T isn’t the only MVPD trying to be that one stop shop either. Comcast, Charter and Cox, via their NCC affiliate, are also trying to own the MVPD addressable market and they have a bit of a head start.

Still, even a “two-stop shop” system will be better for advertisers than going from MVPD to MVPD. Especially if those two shops can come together around a way to standardize segmentation and measurement.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an advertiser, you’ll want to re-examine your thoughts on addressable yet again, and take a look at what Xandr has to offer.

If you’re an MVPD, and you have addressable plans, you may want to consider getting on board with Xandr. Or NCC. But going it alone seems like a bad move at this point.

If you’re the television industry in general, you’ll want to get your act together around addressable. We get that it’s still all up in the air, but the sooner it’s standardized, the easier time you’ll have competing against digital.


2. Fox Sells The Rest Of Sky To Comcast

When Comcast won the Sky auction last week, they really only won 61% of it—Fisney (Fox/Disney) still owned 39% .

That changed this week as Fisney sold that remaining 39% to Comcast in a $15 billion deal, which, kinda sorta, made up for the over $20 billion extra Disney wound up paying for Fox as a result of Comcast’s multiple counteroffers.

Why It Matters

Now that Comcast owns all of Sky, all eyes are on Hulu, which Comcast still owns 30% of. (Fisney owns 60% and AT&T owns 10%.) While I recently laid out why I think it actually made sense for Comcast to take over Hulu, most people are betting that Comcast will sell its 30% as sort of a quid pro quo for the Sky deal and that Disney will, despite protestations to the contrary, use Hulu as the base for “Disneyflix” (which is actually being called “Disney Play” for now) its upcoming OTT service.

There is, however, another school of thought that says that no, Comcast won’t sell their 30% because they want to be able to mess with Disney and prevent them from doing whatever it is they want to do with Hulu.

While that makes for a good movie plot, it’s a little too juvenile for a publicly traded company—there’s no financial benefit to Comcast for staying on board, and, if anything, they could wind up losing a lot more money. So it’s likely that they’ll sell to Disney. (Though we still think that Disney should sell to them.)

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re Brian Roberts, resist the urge to be petty. Ditto Bob Iger.

Everyone else just get out the popcorn.