Google Touts Studio Partnerships at New York NewFronts

Google execs at a presentation at the NewFronts in New York touted partnerships with such media companies as Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, NBCUniversal and Paramount Global utilizing its Disney & Video 360 advertising tool.

Google’s Kristin O’Hara, VP of agency, platforms and client solutions, announced that the tech company is one of the first partners to directly integrate with the Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange (DRAX).

“This is going to allow you to reach relevant audiences across the entire Disney portfolio at more meaningful moments with increased speed, accuracy and flexibility,” she said.

With a new tool expansion, she added, “You’re soon going to be able to select whatever inventory you want across Disney’s portfolio as well as YouTube guaranteed and non-guaranteed, all on DV360.”

She also touted Google’s Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR) “identity solution” giving advertisers and publishers “a new way to power campaigns using first-party data.” It is live with NBCUniversal and is coming soon to Disney through DRAX, she said.

Google and the IAB Tech Lab are partnering on an effort to open-source PAIR to the industry so “our industry as a whole can adopt privacy-forward solutions that are going to benefit everyone,” she said.

“This is a win for the industry, because we believe the future of privacy will be built in partnership,” she said.

Paramount’s Pete Chelala, VP of programmatic advertising sales, and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Jill Steinhauser, SVP of ad sales and revenue operations, joined O’Hara onstage.

“Behaviors are changing, patterns are changing, measurement is changing but what hasn’t changed is just the fundamentals of content,” Chelala said. “It’s just gotta be good.”

“It all goes back to the content,” Steinhauser said.

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Sean Downey, president of the Americas and global partners for Google, noted that streaming has become synonymous with TV.

“We’ve been seeing a major shift in how people watch what they love,” he said. “That means how advertisers connect with streaming audiences has also changed and in 2024 it’s reaching a tipping point. The explosion of streaming has redefined what people even mean when they say they are going to watch TV.”

“As audiences have fragmented so has your ability to reach them,” he noted, at the event highlighting Google’s ad solutions.

Elon Musk Eyeing X Streaming Video App to Take on YouTube

Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) social media platform is readying a streaming video app aimed at offering users access to video entertainment similar to market behemoth YouTube.

In an April 23 social media post, Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, said the app, which remains under construction, would become the “go-to companion” for televised entertainment.

“Soon, we’ll bring real-time, engaging content to your smart TVs,” Yaccarino wrote.

Since its launch, Google-owned YouTube remains the No. 1 viewed U.S. streaming platform with 9.7% market share in March, which was nearly 20% greater than Netflix.

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YouTube TV Raising Monthly Subscription Price 12% to $73

Google’s online television service YouTube TV has raised its monthly fee 12%, from $65 to $73 for new subscribers. Existing subs will see the $8 price hike take effect on April 18.

YouTube TV, which made the announcement in a series of social media posts, said the the price hike is the platform’s first in three years and due in part to rising content costs. The platform, however, is also lowering the monthly fee for the “4K Plus” add-on from $20 to $10.

Last July, YouTube announced that its streaming TV service had topped 5 million monthly subs, ahead of previous leader Hulu + Live TV, which ended 2022 with 4.5 million subs.

Meanwhile, YouTube also offered condolences and an escape link for those who no longer wish to subscribe.

“We are committed to offering a premium way for you to stream TV, but understand this new price may not work for you,” read the post. “We do hope YouTube TV continues to be your service of choice, but we want to give you the flexibility to cancel at any time.”

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Google to Bring NFL ‘Sunday Ticket’ on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels in $2 Billion Deal

The National Football League Dec. 22 announced a multiyear agreement with Google granting YouTube TV subscribers and YouTube Primetime Channels the right to exclusively distribute “NFL Sunday Ticket” in the U.S. starting with the 2023 NFL season.

“For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this strategic partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

NFL Sunday Ticket will be available on YouTube’s subscription businesses as an add-on package on YouTube TV and standalone a-la-carte on YouTube Primetime Channels.

Consisting of all out-of-market Sunday regular-season NFL games (based on viewer’s location) broadcast on Fox and CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket allows domestic fans to follow their favorite teams and players no matter where they live.

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“Through this expanded partnership with the NFL, viewers will now also be able to experience the game they love in compelling and innovative ways,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube.

NFL Sunday Ticket launched in 1994 and has been distributed on DirecTV’s satellite service since its inception. The NFL and YouTube will work together to determine additional ways to support distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket in commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants.

The NFL and Google have been partners since the 2015 launch of the NFL channel on YouTube. Since then, the NFL YouTube channel has grown to more than 10 million subscribers who can access clips, highlights, game-day compilations and exclusive original content series like “NFL Follies” and NFL Films’ two-time Emmy winning flagship series, “Gameday All-Access,” a mic’d up players show bringing fans inside the huddle and on the sidelines.

The NFL is the most popular live television content in all of sports and entertainment, according to Nielsen. Over the last five years, 49 of the top 50 and 92 of the top 100 most-watched programs on U.S. television have been NFL games.

Google’s deal underscores U.S. streaming services’ increased interest in live sports. Amazon has exclusive distribution of “NFL Thursday Night Football” in a 11-year, $11 billion deal. Apple TV+ will begin streaming exclusive access to Major League Soccer in 2023.

Disney, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Halt Theatrical Releases in Russia Due to Ukraine Invasion

With the Russian army’s unprovoked military invasion into democratically controlled Ukraine intensifying, The Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures reportedly plan to halt releasing new theatrical releases in Russia going forward. The decision impacts the pending Pixar Animation release Turning Red, which is set to bow on the Disney+ streaming platform in the U.S., but in theaters in regions like Russia that does not yet have the SVOD service.

The studios’ Feb. 28 action follows economic sanctions imposed by Western countries, companies and the European Union in response to the escalating global crisis after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into neighboring Ukraine.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia,” Disney said in a media statement.

The company said that future business decisions would be based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, Disney said that given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, it is working with non-government partners to provide aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.

Separately, Warner Bros. Pictures’ parent company WarnerMedia said it would halt releasing this weekend’s The Batman in Russian theaters.

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“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”

Sony Pictures joined the growing Hollywood bandwagon announcing that pending release Morbius would not be released in Russian theaters. The decision has impact considering that the studio’s previous release, Spider-Man: No Way Home, generated a reported $45 million at the Russian box office.

“Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia,” Sony said in a media statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”

Over the weekend, Google-owned YouTube and Facebook announced they would block Russian state media outlet RT and other pro-Russian channels from their platforms. Netflix said it would skip streaming 20 free-to-air channels despite Russian regulator Roskomnadzor mandating that any foreign service with more than 100,000 subscribers do so.

“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” Netflix said in a statement.

Susanne Daniels Departing as YouTube Exits Original Content Business

Susanne Daniels, the veteran global head of original content at Google-owned YouTube, is reportedly exiting the streamer in March after six years in the position. In a media statement, Daniels said she looked forward “new adventures ahead.”

Separately, YouTube announced it is exiting the original content business, continuing to fund original programming for Black Voices and children going forward, according to Robert Kyncl, chief business officer at YouTube.

“We will honor our commitment for already contracted shows in progress and creators who are involved with those shows should expect to hear from us directly in the coming days,” Kyncl said in a statement.

Susanne Daniels

Daniels is best known for shepherding the launch of the “Karate Kid” franchise continuation “Cobra Kai” on YouTube in 2018. Netflix acquired the rights in 2020, later greenlighting a third and fourth season. It is now one of the streamer’s most-popular series in terms of hours streamed, with a combined 190+million hours viewed through Jan. 9.

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“YouTube’s the biggest and best video platform in the world and what an exciting and tremendous experience I’ve had working to create meaningful programming for global users of all ages and backgrounds,” Daniels said. “I’m so proud that our content could contribute to the ongoing growth and success of this remarkable platform.”

Roku, Google End Dispute, Ink New Carriage Agreement

Roku and Google have ended a reportedly contentious negotiation and signed a new multiyear carriage deal for distribution of the latter’s YouTube and YouTube TV properties on the Roku platform. The existing contract was set to expire Dec. 9.

Roku, with 56.4 million active accounts through Sept. 30, remains a vital conduit linking third-party streaming video services with consumers on their television. In exchange, Roku either collects percentage of the subscription fees and/or access to user data.

It is the latter that apparently irked Google, resulting in a yearlong war of words between the search behemoth and SVOD co-pioneer (with Netflix). While YouTube remains the largest social video platform in the world, YouTube TV relies on consumer awareness to grow its reported 3 million to 4 million subscriber base.

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“Roku and Google have agreed to a multiyear extension for both YouTube and YouTube TV. This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform,” a Roku spokesperson said in a statement.

Roku’s carriage terms have met resistance from other media companies, which resulted in both HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock SVOD service launching without Roku support. The lack of visibility on the platform hurt both services’ subscriber growth out of the gate, leading WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal to quietly iron out their differences and sign distribution deals.

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.”