Chicken Soup’s Crackle Connex Ad Platform Joins Industry Association

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment on April 26 announced that Crackle Connex, the company’s advertising sales platform, has become a member of Geopath, the not-for-profit organization that provides the industry standard audience metrics for out-of-home (OOH) advertising.

Crackle Connex will begin using Geopath data to understand audience targeting, audience measurement, and return on ad spend (ROAS) for more than 2,700 video screens on top of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s Redbox kiosks nationwide.

Redbox continues to aggressively add video screens to its kiosks, saying they they provide promotional messaging about upcoming titles as well as advertising opportunities for brands in high-traffic locations, including grocery stores, discount retailers, and convenience stores. The company recently announced plans to roll out an additional 1,500 kiosks in partnership with Dollar General stores, boosting its presence there to more than 5,000 by the end of 2024 — and its total kiosks count to 33,500. 

“Geopath has built the most comprehensive platform for out-of-home audience measurement, which will be a massive asset for our brand partners’ campaigns on our Redbox kiosk video screens,” said Philippe Guelton, chief revenue officer of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, who heads the Crackle Connex initiative.

“With a greater understanding of the target audience, we can help ensure the success of these campaigns,” Guelton said.

“As the retail media network segment of OOH continues to rapidly grow and deliver high-impact results, I am pleased to welcome Crackle Connex as a new member of Geopath,” said Dylan Mabin, president of Geopath. “As the industry’s foundational source for measuring the value of OOH inventory, Geopath is uniquely equipped to provide our membership with the insights needed to increase the precision and accuracy of audience metrics, and ultimately enable advertisers to maximize the full potential of their OOH campaigns.”

FAST-Talking at NAB Show 2023: ‘We’re Linear Again’

LAS VEGAS — There’s no question that FAST — free, ad-supported television — is booming, with domestic revenues expected to triple to about $12 billion over the next three years.

But speakers on the NAB’s “FAST Channels and Furious Growth” panel discussion April 17 at the NAB show were divided on whether FAST is a new, modern replacement for cable television.

“I absolutely think it’s a replacement [for cable],” said Amy Kuessner, EVP of content strategy and global partnerships at Paramount Streaming, with direct responsibility for Pluto.

“I think everyone here sees the cable numbers every day, and they are dwindling,” she said. “And I used to be on the that side of the business. It’s similar in the fact that what’s old is new again — we’re linear again, it’s back in style, but it’s digital linear, and ad-supported. It’s the same in that we’re still programming niche channels, which is what cable did so well, but it’s different in that it’s not Cable 2.0. It’s becoming this whole ‘must carry’ thing; it’s cable without borders, so it’s very different in the marketplace approach.”

Philippe Guelton, chief revenue officer of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, took an opposing stance.

“I don’t think FAST is the new cable at all,” he said. “And the reason is when you cut the cord, when you cut cable, you lost a lot more than what’s available on FAST today. Think about the premium channels — the HBOs, the Showtimes. This where the actual investment was taking place in cable, and now that is happening on SVOD, for the most part — this is where a lot of that content lives.

“And then you have the broadcast content, the bigger and more general entertainment channels on cable, which have become really the AVOD experience. Movie-watching on FAST is not the ideal situation. VOD is the best experience for consumers to watch movies.

“So what, then, is FAST? I think it’s almost equivalent to syndicated television. This is where all that content goes after it’s gone through all those other windows. It’s almost like syndicated television on steroids, in a way, because there’s so much more [content].

“So, I think you really have to look at the entire ecosystem — FAST, AVOD, SVOD and TVOD — to really replace cable for the consumer.”

Jim Packer, president of worldwide television distribution at Lionsgate, agreed.

“We lost 7 million homes in the MVPD ecosystems last year,” Packer said. “Where they all went is part of the fascination of what we do. Some people have SVOD and SVOD is starting to bundle, so you have that dynamic. You’ve got somebody who buys a Samsung TV and may not even be aware of FAST, then discovers it for the first time. I think that one of the things that makes it a little bit tricky for FAST, and that over time I hope will continue to improve, is that each of the platforms looks a lot different and is a little bit less consistent than the MVPD ecosystem.

“So I think it [FAST] is happening, and it is part of the transition, but everybody’s competing for those 7 million people.”

Adam Lewinson, chief content officer of Tubi, maintains there’s room for different business models as audiences continue to migrate from cable to Internet-based services.

“Tubi is predominantly a video-on-demand platform,” he said, “and our vision of the future is that the future of streaming television is going to be predominantly on demand. Having said that, we still have 200 FAST channels, leaning heavily into news and sports. There’s always going to be a demand for live.”

Asked which demographics are driving the growth of FAST, Kuessner said that at Pluto, “We tremendously over indexed in Hispanic and African-American audiences. I want to say that the general market for African-American television viewing is 20%; we’re at 30%. And because of that, we were one of the first platforms — 2019, I want to say — to roll out an entire Hispanic offering with over 50 channels. And then we do have channels that are more targeted to African-Americans, whether it’s Black cinema or classics. Those channels are what I call our power channels, and they were just off the charts in terms of performance.”

Tubi’s Lewinson said half of his company’s viewers identify as multicultural. “We’re also one of the younger streamers, so a little over a third of our audience is in that coveted 18-34 demo. And what’s really interesting, and probably one of the reasons why we’re still very heavily a video-on-demand platform as opposed to these FAST channels, is that so much of our audience grew up on YouTube or Netflix and they like the on-demand, they like our personalization tools, they’re used to navigating the algorithms, and the linear environment is just not the best experience for certain kinds of content. If you’re going to watch a movie, you’re probably going to want to watch it from the beginning.

“So what we find is that the viewers who are leaning more heavily into these FAST channels tend to skew older, and I think a lot of that is just transitional — the electronic program guides, not everyone grew up with that, but for [older viewers] it just feels comfortable — ‘Oh, this feels like my cable box.'”

Chicken Soup’s Crackle Connex Ad Platform Signs Two More New Deals

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment on April 12 announced the signing of two more new deals for Crackle Connex, the new advertising sales platform the company launched earlier this month.

The platform, which Chicken Soup says simplifies the advertising buying process, has signed agreements with two fast-growing U.S. Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) networks — rapidly scaling its reach to over 10,000 video screens. The networks are Coinstar’s adPlanet Retail Media Group, the country’s largest grocery and retail DOOH network, and Velocity, a technology solutions provider of digital signage and DOOH media solutions across a nationwide high traffic retail-focused network that includes movie theaters and grocery stores, among others.

With the addition of more than 6,500 video screens from adPlanet, 950 from Velocity in hospitality and cinema lobbies, and 3,000 current Redbox video screens, these two deals will expand Crackle Connex’s DOOH reach to over 10,000 video screens.

“Retail media is fast becoming the hottest place to promote a brand message,” said Philippe Guelton, chief revenue officer of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “The 10,000-plus video screens resulting from the adPlanet, Velocity, and Redbox alliance will allow advertisers to reach millions of consumers at the point of purchase.”

adPlanet Retail Media Group provides exclusive access to the 1.4 billion monthly impressions accessible by Coinstar, the global leader in self-service coin-counting kiosks (and a former parent of Redbox). Crackle Connex will work with adPlanet to sell advertising inventory on the company’s 6,500+ video screens located on top of Coinstar kiosks in supermarkets nationwide.

Velocity delivers customized technology solutions for multi-location enterprises across multiple industries. Velocity also manages digital signage and DOOH media solutions across 26,000 locations and 38,000 digital screens, including grocery, movie theater, and hotel lobbies. Through an advertising representation agreement, Crackle Connex will have the right to market and sell video advertising on approximately 950 screens in the lobbies of Velocity’s hotel and cinema lobby networks.

New ‘Crackle Connex’ Ad Platform Signs Exclusive Deal With Live TV Streamer Vidgo

Crackle Connex, a division of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, on April 10 announced it has signed a deal with live-TV streaming service Vidgo to exclusively represent Vidgo’s advertising sales and operations in the United States. Vidgo will leverage Crackle Connex’s deep advertising industry relations and offer brands a simple way to buy ads across over 200 channels.

Crackle Connex is a new advertising sales platform launched by Chicken Soup on April 4. The company says the platform will simplify the buying process for marketers, with consistent measurement and performance tracking.

Vidgo is one of the fastest-growing live-TV streaming services, offering over 200 live channels of news, entertainment, Spanish-language networks, and sports for a monthly subscription charge. 

“Vidgo provides great value to viewers looking for general entertainment and sports and an important Spanish-language offering,” said Philippe Guelton, chief revenue officer of Crackle Connex. “Our team is proud to become their exclusive advertising sales arm and support their future growth.”

“The Crackle Connex platform magnifies the opportunity by simplifying the buying process with measurement and performance tracking that will help advertisers and agencies connect with the audiences more effectively,” said Derek Mattsson, CEO of Vidgo.

Vidgo comes in four “flavors,” all offering Vidgo’s entire on-demand library of 40,000 titles and more. VidgoMás ($39.99 per month) features 42 live and on-demand Spanish-language channels, including content from Univision and UniMás local broadcast stations and Fox Deportes, Discovery Familias and many all-around entertainment options. Vidgo Plus ($69.99 per month) features over 110 channels and more college sports than any other streaming service. Vidgo Premium ($84.99 per month) offers unlimited access to more than 150 television networks. Lastly, Vidgo Ultimate ($99.99 per month) provides the industry’s best bilingual streaming package with 195 live-streaming, on-demand and DVR viewing of English, Spanish and bilingual channels. This includes 35 sports networks, the championship games for NFL, MLB and international soccer, games from 20 college sports conferences, and access to 90 Univision and UniMás local channels based on the viewer’s location.

OTT.X Adds Two New Board Seats, Appoints Amagi’s Srinivasan Ka and Crackle’s Philippe Guelton

OTT.X on Oct. 28 announced two new board seats on the trade group’s board of directors, going to Amagi co-founder Srinivasan KA and Crackle president Philippe Guelton.

“These additions display our continued growth alongside the entire OTT industry,” said Mark Fisher, OTT.X president and CEO. “And I am sure that each director will bring an important perspective, wealth of experience, and desire for growth benefiting our continued mission of connecting and nurturing the OTT ecosystem enabling innovation, collaboration, and competition.”

KA and Guelton will broaden the 17-member OTT.X board’s representation across all segments of its community, OTT.X says.

The appointments are effective immediately. Directors will serve until the annual OTT.X organizational board meeting in 2023.

Crackle Plus Names Four Senior Executives

Crackle Plus, the revamped 13-year-old ad-supported VOD service co-owned by CSS Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television, has added four senior executives.

Philippe Guelton, EVP of CSS Entertainment, is now president of Crackle Plus, reporting to Elana Sofko, COO of CSS Entertainment.

Joining Guelton are three former Sony Crackle executives: Darren Olive, who becomes EVP of ad sales; Jason Schaeffer, who becomes SVP of business development, marketing and business intelligence; and Tony Simon, who assumes the position of SVP, content operations.

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Sony in March sold majority stake in Crackle to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSS Entertainment) in a stock transaction whereby it received 4 million warrants to buy CSS Entertainment stock.

Crackle has more than 38,000 hours of programming and 10 million monthly users.

CSS, which also owns ad-supported platforms Popcornflix, Truli, Popcornflix Kids, Popcornflix Comedy, Frightpix, and Espanolflix, is expected to meld the services into Crackle Plus.