Comscore to Provide Connected TV Measurement for YouTube and YouTube TV

Comscore Aug. 9 announced it will be including YouTube and YouTube TV measurement into its cross-platform service, Comscore Campaign Ratings. The pact with the Google-owned platforms will help Comscore provide marketers with a better understanding of how audiences are consuming content on YouTube and YouTube TV across desktop, mobile, and connected TVs.

Comscore data metrics provides advertisers and agencies with a deduplicated view of reach and frequency across linear TV, OTT/CTV, PC and mobile inventory. This includes measurement for co-viewers on OTT/CTV. The new capability will pave the way for advertisers and agencies to understand combined co-viewing for YouTube and YouTube TV across OTT/CTV as well as incremental reach to their linear TV buys, providing total cross-platform ad measurement.

“People are watching more YouTube than ever — on mobile, on laptops, and especially on our fastest growing screen, the TV, and we want to ensure advertisers can measure their reach across all devices with third-party partners like Comscore,” Debbie Weinstein, VP of global solutions for YouTube, said in a statement. “We also know people are choosing to watch their favorite YouTube content on connected TVs with others, and the inclusion of co-viewing in this new integration will allow advertisers to understand the full scale of the audience they’re able to reach through YouTube CTV campaigns.”

The rise of streaming on CTV devices continues to create new opportunities for advertisers to reach viewers. Amid such growth and with the proliferation of streaming video services, the addition of YouTube and YouTube TV to Comscore will enable one of the largest advertising sources for modern cross-platform measurement.  As previously published by Comscore, more than 80% of CTV reach in the U.S. falls on only five streaming services — and only two are ad-supported.

“This is a critical milestone for Comscore and for the industry,” said Comscore CEO Bill Livek. “Our clients are placing a large portion of their advertising spend with YouTube, and they need a holistic view of how that spend is performing relative to the entire media mix.”

Livek previously headed home entertainment distributor Rentrak, which was acquired by Comscore in 2016.

Google Services (i.e. YouTube) Ups Q2 Revenue 63% to $57 Billion

Google reported second-quarter (ended June 30) services revenue of $57 billion, an 63% increase from revenue of $35 billion in the previous-year period. Operating income skyrocketed 135% to $22.3 billion from $9.5 billion.

Google Services generates revenue primarily from advertising; sales of apps, in-app purchases, digital content products, and hardware; and fees received for subscription-based products such as YouTube Premium and online subscription-based YouTube TV — the No. 2 online TV platform behind Disney’s Hulu + Live TV.

Indeed, YouTube ad revenue alone topped $7 billion in the quarter.

Overall, Alphabet net income shot up 164% to $18.5 billion from $8.9 billion in the previous-year period. Revenue increased 62% to $61.9 billion, from $38.2 billion in the year-ago period.

“In Q2, there was a rising tide of online activity in many parts of the world, and we’re proud that our services helped so many consumers and businesses,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and corporate parent Alphabet, said in a statement.

Multiple States Join Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Play Store, Citing Pending 30% Sales Commission Hike

Nearly 70% of the U.S. state attorneys general have reportedly joined an antitrust lawsuit filed July 7 against Google and its branded Google Play Store. The suit, which was filed in California federal court, alleges Google is exercising monopoly power with a planned September 30% commission hike on third-party sales of digital goods, i.e. movies and TV shows, in addition to subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ and Hulu.

Lead states in the suit include Utah, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and Nebraska — underscoring a trend among conservative states taking on Silicon Valley tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple alleging political bias.

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But this suit, similar to litigation filed against Apple’s App Store, is calling out the company’s gatekeeper tactics as non-competitive. Google also faces separate litigation from myriad states regarding its search engine and advertising technology.

Most studios, media companies and over-the-top video platforms use Google and Apple to market their apps to consumers. Apple mandates that anyone using a branded iOS device must access third-party apps through its App Store. For Android device users, Google Play Store has become the default search tool, although consumers can access apps via alternative channels such as Amazon and Samsung.

Google last year began informing companies and services that it would begin enforcing their use of its payment system for all transactions, beginning in September. As the deadline approached companies such as Netflix and Spotify cried foul, which led to Google reportedly proposing a 15% commission on the first $1 million in revenue from video, audio and e-book transactions.

While Apple continues to operate in a closed system, Google does not — a reality Wilson White, senior director of government affairs and public policy at Google noted in written testimony submitted April 21 to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

In his testimony, Wilson argued that use of the Android mobile operating system, which launched in 2008, is free to anyone and has increased third-party competition as a valuable go-to platform for e-commerce, development and marketing.

More importantly, Wilson contends Google operates the Play Store outside of a bubble.

“Distributors can distribute their app via many other Android app stores, directly to OEMs, or through direct downloads on their websites,” he wrote. “And developers are free to contract directly with device makers [i.e. mobile phone, tablet manufacturers] to preload their apps on Android devices.”

Ava DuVernay’s Array and Google Offering Grant to Underrepresented Filmmakers

Array, founded in 2011 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, has announced a partnership with Google to offer emerging creatives from historically underrepresented communities the opportunity to apply for a $500,000 feature film grant.

Array is a  grassroots distribution, arts and advocacy collective focused on amplifying work by people of color and women. The Array + Google Feature Film Grant, which will provide funds to produce the recipient’s first full-length feature film, was instituted as a way to help build a more equitable and inclusive artistic community of diverse storytellers.

“Having started my filmmaking journey by self-funding projects, this is a full-circle moment,” DuVernay said in a statement. “I’m pleased to partner with Google and Array’s grant advisory committee to identify an emerging writer/director to bring their vision to the screen. Inclusive storytelling is at the heart of Array’s mission and we’re proud to also provide access to Array Crew in order to further ensure that the set of the grantee’s film reflects the full array of the world around us.”

The recipient of this mentorship and filmmaking opportunity will be selected by an advisory committee within the independent filmmaking community, including Gabrielle Glore (Urbanworld, festival director and head of programming), Francis Cullado (Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, executive director for visual communications media), Crystal Echo Hawk (IllumiNative, founder and executive director), María Rauqel Bozzi (senior director of education and international initiatives at Film Independent), and Smriti Kiran (artistic director, Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival).

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“We live and breathe filmmaking at Array. For the past decade we have had the opportunity to amplify the work of so many stellar women and filmmakers of color, and the opportunity to partner with Google on this grant is the start of a strong partnership,” Array president Tilane Jones said in a statement. “We are so lucky to have Crystal, Gabrielle, Francis, Maria and Smriti on our advisory committee and be working with every pillar of Array to produce and distribute this project.”

“We’re honored to help Array showcase talented creatives from underrepresented communities and to add volume to more diverse voices,” Elle Roth-Brunet, Google Assistant’s entertainment partnerships lead and producer on the project, said in a statement. “The Array + Google Feature Film Grant is intrinsically aligned with Google Assistant’s commitment to speak with a diverse set of voices, and connect with more people to help in their everyday lives.”

The production will be powered by Array Crew, the database created by DuVernay as a way for hiring managers in search of below-the-line hires to access underrepresented film and television professionals, including but not limited to women and BIPOC individuals of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island decent. The platform currently has more than 6,000 qualified members and more than 300 productions across 450 departments. Array Crew includes grips, lighting directors, production designers, costume designers, sound technicians, production accountants, hair stylists, VFX designers, foley artists, ADR mixers, animal trainers, food stylists, choreographers, scenic painters, toolmen, fabric buyers, stitchers, ADR editors, graphic designers, SFX makeup and more.

CPO Neal Mohan: 41% of AVOD Consumption Happens on YouTube

NEWS ANALYSIS — As the ad-supported VOD market skyrockets, including adoption of a new FAST acronym (free ad-supported streaming television), major media companies are clamoring to get a seat on the bandwagon.

“Not so fast,” would appear to be the advice of Neal Mohan, chief product officer of YouTube, who, in a March 10 blog post following comments given at the IAB leadership event, contends the Google-owned streaming platform already has dominant market share in the AVOD ecosystem.

YouTube CPO Neal Mohan

Mohan says 41% of all ad-supported VOD viewing is currently done on YouTube, a reasonable assessment considering the platform, along with Netflix, literally created the streaming video market.

According to eMarketer, more than 106 million U.S. households are projected to watch streaming content in 2021, surpassing pay-TV.  More than 82% of Internet-connected TV reach occurs through five streaming services: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Disney+, according to Comscore. Only two of the platforms sell ads: Hulu and YouTube.

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“All of this makes clear how Internet-connected TV has opened a significant new chapter for video on YouTube and beyond,” Mohan wrote.

The executive claims 70% of YouTube viewers have purchased products advertised on the platform. Last December, more than 120 million people in the U.S. streamed YouTube or YouTube TV on their TV screens.

“There’s another interesting viewing behavior emerging,” Mohan wrote. “A new generation of viewers chooses to watch YouTube primarily on the TV screen: Also in December, over a quarter of logged-in YouTube CTV viewers in the U.S. watched content almost exclusively on the TV screen.”

Google this month will roll out YouTube Shorts, a mobile phone-centric platform that aims to compete with TikTok, enabling creators and artists to shoot snappy videos. Currently, Shorts is available in beta in India. Since the beginning of December, the number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the platform’s Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally, according to the company.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll begin expanding the beta to the U.S., unlocking our tools to even more creators so they can get started with Shorts,” Mohan wrote.

YouTube TV Bows 4K Content, Will Launch Mobile Phone Video Tool to Compete With TikTok

Online TV platform YouTube TV has 3 million subscribers, 85 channels and access to the MLB World Series and the NFL, among other high-profile events. Now, the Google-owned platform is offering subs access to 4K content (4K HD TV required), offline content, and unlimited concurrent streams at home so the whole family can stream on different screens at once.

YouTube TV now supports a combination of SD, HD, 4K, VR, HDR and live video, as well as DVR on nearly every device with an Internet connection — from desktops to mobile, and gaming consoles to VR headsets.

“While the majority of YouTube videos are watched on mobile, our fastest area of growth is the TV,” Neal Mohan, chief product officer for YouTube, wrote in a blog post. “Later this year, we’ll launch a redesign of the YouTube VR app homepage to improve navigation, accessibility and search functionality.”

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Separately, Google in March will roll out YouTube Shorts, a mobile phone-centric platform that aims to compete with TikTok, enabling creators and artists to shoot snappy videos. Currently, Shorts is available in beta in India. Since the beginning of December, the number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the YouTube Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally, according to the company.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll begin expanding the beta to the U.S., unlocking our tools to even more creators so they can get started with Shorts,” Mohan wrote.

Google Agrees to Pay News Corp. for Content in Landmark Media Boost

In a major shift, Google has signed a three-year deal with News Corp., agreeing to pay “significant payments” to the corporate parent to The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch, New York Post, The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun in the U.K., among others.

The deal also calls for development of a news-based subscription platform and revenue-sharing deals for advertising, audio journalism and video journalism on Google-owned YouTube.

News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said that the deal would have a positive impact on journalism around the globe having firmly established that there should be a premium for premium journalism.

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“I would like to thank [Google CEO] Sundar Pichai and his team who have shown a thoughtful commitment to journalism that will resonate in every country,” Thompson said. “This has been a passionate cause for our company for well over a decade and I am gratified that the terms of trade are changing, not just for News Corp, but for every publisher.”

Google for years has been accused of distributing proprietary content from news outlets around the world for free via its vaunted search engine. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. was one of the first media companies to fight back, erecting pay walls and lobbying government pushback against Google, including in the U.S. Congress. Similar deals with Google have occurred following government fines in France and Australia.

Thompson credited the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, along with the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, for sticking up for news journalism and enabling providers the ability to get paid.

“The deal simply would not have been possible without the fervent, unstinting support of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, and the News Corp board,” Thompson said. “For many years, we were accused of tilting at tech windmills, but what was a solitary campaign, a quixotic quest, has become a movement, and both journalism and society will be enhanced.”

TikTok Owner Seeks Injunction Stopping App Ban in the U.S.

ByteDance, the Chinese owner of social video platform TikTok, has filed for a preliminary injunction against the Trump Administration’s executive order banning U.S. access to the app, effective on Sept. 27. About 100 million Americans use TikTok on a monthly basis.

The request, filed Sept. 23 in the District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to stop a DOJ mandate ordering Google and Apple to remove the TikTok app from their platforms on Sunday — in addition to ceasing to provide updates for current holders of the app.

ByteDance is currently in negotiations with Oracle and Walmart to sell 20% (for $20 billion) of a new corporate entity called TikTok Global. Trump last weekend publicly gave his approval of deal — until he found out the Chinese would still own 80% of the company. Oracle reportedly said the sale would preclude ByteDance from owning the TikTok app outright.

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Regardless, the Chinese government would have to approve of any deal, which seems increasingly unlikely following reports in the government-owned English newspaper China Times, which called the transaction “dirty and unfair,” and based on “bullying and corruption.”

The Trump Administration, which eyes TikTok as a threat to national security, continues to engage in a war of words with China over trade and technology.

ByteDance says the security fears are overblown and political in nature.

“There is simply no genuine emergency here that would justify the government’s precipitous actions,” read the filing. “And there is no plausible reason to insist the prohibitions be enforced immediately.”

Comcast Eyes Leasing X1 Software to TV Manufacturers

Comcast is reportedly considering licensing its X1 set-top box software to third-party consumer electronics manufacturers of smart televisions. Such a move would put Comcast in competition with Roku, Google and Amazon, among other tech companies affording TV manufacturers with Internet-connected consoles.

First reported by Protocol.com, citing sources familiar with the situation, Comcast engaged in initial discussions with TV manufacturers in January at the pre-COVID-19 CES confab in Las Vegas. The cable operator, which is slowly coming to grips with a changing pay-TV market — underscored by the departure of more than 815,000 subscribers through June 30 — currently licenses X1 technology for third-party set-tops to Cox Communications and soon Charter (Spectrum TV Plus).

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Roku cut its teeth licensing its operating system through set-top devices manufactured for the former 21st Century Fox’s NOW TV. Comcast now owns NOW TV through its acquisition of Sky from Fox. Samsung, one of the world’s largest TV manufacturers, has begun licensing its Tizen OS smart TV technology to third parties.

Comcast’s move into software licensing could be accelerating after attempts to sell NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service through the Roku platform fell through. Similarly to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Peacock is also not available on Amazon Fire TV.

Launched in 2012 as Comcast’s antidote to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, cloud-based X1 platform now represents about 60% of the cabler’s pay-TV subscriber base. Since then X1 offers subs access to Netflix and YouTube apps. Comcast also launched broadband-only Xfinity Flex online TV platform.

Revised Tech Encryption Bill Sent to U.S. Senate for Vote

A bill seeking to prohibit the exploitation of minors on the Internet July 2 was sent to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a full vote. While there is no argument against removing images of child abuse from the Web, technology and trade organizations contend the “Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technology” (Earn It) Act — introduced in March by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — could undermine user encryption safeguards and hold platforms such as Facebook and Google-owned YouTube liable for video images distributed by third parties.

Indeed, the bill would enable U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr to force tech companies to bypass encryption found on cell phones, computers and portable media devices for law enforcement purposes.

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“The Earn It Act could end user privacy as we know it,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a statement. “Tech companies that provide private, encrypted messaging could have to rewrite their software to allow police special access to their users’ messages.”

Graham later issued a statement stressing the bill would not undermine existing encryption safeguards.

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‘The goal here is not to outlaw encryption … that will be a debate for another day,” Graham said.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, said the bill would stifle legal online speech and harm American competitiveness.

“Rather than targeting the actual problem and giving prosecutors the resources to lock up [sex] offenders, the EARN IT Act would promote lawsuits against legitimate Internet companies,” Shapiro said.

He said the bill would allow states to create a “patchwork quilt” of civil and criminal liability without specifying a “knowledge” standard.

“We appreciate the Senate Judiciary Committee’s interest in fighting child exploitation and believe the committee should pursue more effective measures,” Shapiro said. “There is nothing in existing law … that prevents the Department of Justice from bringing charges against abusers right now.”