Multi-screen video

TWC Taps BlackArrow for Multiscreen Ads

In another sign that TV Everywhere is starting to hit its stride, Time Warner Cable is rolling out a new system that enables it to insert ads dynamically into programming streamed to a wide range of screens beyond conventional TV sets.

The advanced dynamic ad insertion (DAI) system, developed by BlackArrow Inc. , enables Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) to place ads in on-demand content that runs on any IP-enabled device. That means that the number two US MSO will now be able to insert ads into VoD programming running on connected TVs, tablets, laptops, game consoles, streaming media players, smartphones and other IP video devices. As a result, TWC will be able to start monetizing multiscreen video by selling VoD spots to advertisers much more effectively.

BlackArrow's new DAI system builds on technology that the ad-tech specialist had already developed for dynamically inserting ads in linear and on-demand programming running on traditional QAM-based cable set-top boxes. TWC has been using that technology for a while, along with such other major BlackArrow MSO customers as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Bright House Networks . In addition, Time Warner Cable has already deployed BlackArrow's Advanced Advertising System to insert ads dynamically into linear TV programming streamed to IP-based video devices.

But this latest deal extends that DAI capability to VoD programming streamed to connected devices, filling the last gap for TWC. So now the MSO can insert ads on any type of programming delivered to any type of device.

"It's TV everywhere meets addressable advertising," BlakArrow President Nick Troiano told Light Reading. "For us, it's an extension … It completes the full circle of multiplatform ads."

Troiano also noted that the move will allow Time Warner Cable to consolidate and streamline its workflows across all of its ad inventory and ad reporting and tracking systems, thereby making it easier and more cost-effective for the MSO to sell and insert ads in multiscreen programming. "We're unifying the platforms," he said. "So the ad community has a way to look at cross-platform monetization."

Time Warner Cable's deployment plans call for rolling out the expanded ad insertion capabilities in phases. TWC is starting with iOS and Android devices and then will extend its reach to other IP-enabled devices, including Samsung Corp. connected TVs, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Xbox 360 game console and Roku Inc. streaming media players.

Want to know more about multiscreen video trends? Check out our dedicated multiscreen video content channel here on Light Reading.

In the UK, Virgin Media is now working on a similar phased-in deployment plan for BlackArrow's DAI system. Troiano expects other MSO customers to follow their lead, with another deployment announcement projected for the spring. "We're actively engaged with many of them today," he said. (See Black Arrow Snags Virgin Media .)

Looking beyond VoD ads, BlackArrow intends to tackle DVRs next. Troiano said his company is now looking at how to insert ads dynamically into network DVR recordings without turning off viewers, most of whom rely on their DVRs to skip over commercials. He aims to have more to say on that by the summer.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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