Big News Week For Addressable, Disney+, Starz, vMVPDs

Every week brings some news about the latest advanced TV developments, but this one was particularly chock-full.

On the addressability front, we learned that AMC Networks, through ad-tech company Canoe and as part of the On Addressability Initiative, is launching the first multi-distributor, linear addressable TV campaign.

Specifically, AMC will, over a four-week period, run multiple ads for a telecom company as a single order across Comcast and Charter. Together, those companies account for a significant portion of the On Addressability partners’ total of 30 million-plus addressable linear and VOD TV homes.

Nielsen’s news that it will “add addressable measurement to its national TV currency” through “strategic data integrations” from 55 million smart TVs and set-top boxes made the biggest splash — in part because of its promise of scale, and in part because it appears to signal new cooperation between two up-to-now competing smart-TV addressability initiatives.



As noted here recently, Nielsen, which has been working on its Advanced Video Advertising (AVA) initiative for going on two years now, and began a two-phase beta test in January, originally planned to launch in Q4 to 15 million households with LG Electronics TVs. Recently, it scaled that back to 1 million households to launch during Q1.

Nielsen said the new initiative’s smart TV element will include “addressable campaigns on Vizio,” as well as AVA — presumably meaning the million LG sets. Plus DirecTV and Dish data.

And importantly, it will “utilize the open addressable standard developed by Project OAR” — the Vizio-run industry consortium that has been operating on a separate track up to now. OAR expects to have a network of 10 million households with Vizio smart TVs ready to roll for deploying addressable inventory by year’s end.

Cooperation, instead of two possibly conflicting systems, certainly seems like good news. Most intriguing, Nielsen is promising to “calibrate” or somehow reconcile tune-in and exposure data from MVPDs and smart TV OEMs against the national panel that sets the standard for C3 and C7 measurement.

All of which sounds great, of course — but deserves a closer look. Watch this space.

On the major streaming services front, the week brought news that the year-old Disney+ juggernaut continues to gather momentum, providing a bright spot in its fiscal Q4 ended October 3 — in which the company suffered its first quarterly net loss in decades.

Disney+’s paid subs zoomed (sorry) from 60.5 million in August to 73.7 million, putting it already beyond the lower range of its stated plan to reach 60 million to 90 million by 2024.

Disney’s Hulu VOD service pulled lower per-subscriber ad revenue, but enjoyed a 27% increase in subscribers, to 32.5 million. All, as consultant Alan Wolk points out, “with none of the hassles with Roku and Amazon that have plagued its competitors.”

And Disney’s more expensive vMVPD, Hulu + Live TV, gained 41% (700,000), to 4.1 million subscribers. That makes it the nation’s largest vMVPD, outdistancing #2 YouTube TV, which saw its own subscribers rise from 2.5 million to 3 million between Q2 and Q3. It also makes Hulu + Live TV larger than MVPDs Verizon (3.93 million subscribers), Cox (with an estimated 3.8 million in Q2) and Altice USA (3 million).

Disney’s ESPN+ also saw subscriber growth: up to 10.3 million from 3.5 million in the year-ago quarter.

And Disney’s overall Direct-to-Consumer and International business, which includes Disney+ and ESPN+, reduced its operating loss from $751 million to $580 million.

Starz's streaming service also shone during Q3, with its largest-to-date quarterly growth in domestic subs: up to 9.2 million, from 7.4 million in Q2. Global subscribers also rose, from 11.4 million to 13.7 million.

As for other leading vMVPDs, the return of some live sports helped Sling TV, which had lost subscribers in recent quarters, grow its total from 2.46 million in Q2 to 2.46 million.

In addition, Philo’s total rose by 50,000, to 800,000.

The sole exception was AT&T TV Now, which saw subs drop to 683,000 — down 37,000 from Q2, and more than 40% on a year-over-year basis.

But that was not particularly surprising, given that news also broke this week that AT&T — now focused on revving up the performance of its critical HBO Max streamer — is exploring the sale of minority stakes in AT&T Now and U-verse, as well as DirecTV.  

Now, time to recharge for another week of ATV news ahead.

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