BlackArrow is now shooting bullseyes on both sides of the Atlantic.
BlackArrow Inc. , which specializes in developing targeted ad solutions for pay-TV providers, has signed up its first European cable operator as a customer. Just a few months after opening its first European office in London, BlackArrow has snared Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), the largest MSO in the UK.
Under the deal, BlackArrow will help Virgin Media and TV programmers to insert ads dynamically into on-demand programming on both television screens and mobile video devices in the UK. BlackArrow said it will gain the ability to reach as many as 5.3 million TV screens in Virgin Media homes, as well as potentially many more tablets, smartphones, laptops and other IP-connected devices.
No terms of the agreement were announced. But the deal is clearly a big one for BlackArrow, which is now seeking to expand its reach beyond its North American base and grow across the globe.
In the US and Canada, BlackArrow already serves such major MSOs as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Bright House Networks and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), giving its ad platform a reach of more than 30 million cable homes. With the addition of Virgin Media's cable homes, BlackArrow figures that its reach will now extend to more than 37 million households.
The agreement with Virgin Media, which is part of the much larger Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) empire, is also a big deal for BlackArrow because it covers not just video programming on TV screens, but programming on mobile screens as well. Besides inserting ads dynamically on its traditional VoD content running on TV screens, Virgin plans to insert the ads on its TV Anywhere service app running on mobile devices.
"Virgin is the next step forward for us," said BlackArrow President Nick Troiano, who is also becoming the company's CEO following last week's resignation from that post by Dean Denhart. "It's true multi-platform advertising, unifying audiences across platforms and targeted to consumers."
Plans call for BlackArrow and Virgin Media to start deploying the dynamic ad insertion service early next year, beginning with programming running through digital cable set-top boxes to TV screens in the homes. The two companies then intend to extend the service to mobile devices through the TV Anywhere app.
Troiano said the ad platform deal could potentially cover over-the-top video services offered by Virgin Media as well. He noted that the lines dividing traditional TV advertising from digital advertising on the Internet are now blurring.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading