Amobee Inks Digital Ad Tech Deals with ITV, Univision

Digital advertising tech company Amobee has signed licensing agreements with ITV, the U.K.’s biggest commercial TV network, and Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications.

Amobee, which acquired ad software company Videology in 2018, made the announcements at the 2019 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

ITV will incorporate Amobee’s technology, which helps advertisers better control their campaigns, across ITV’s VOD service, ITV Hub.

This new functionality gives advertisers the ability to deliver mass simultaneous reach across linear channels, alongside targeted, data-driven advertising on the Hub.

The ITV Hub, which has more than 28 million subscribers, saw a 32% increase in viewing in the past year with more than 446 million hours of online viewing.

The ITV Hub had its biggest ever day on July 3, 2018 thanks to the World Cup and “Love Island” TV show. The Hub generated a record 9.7 million simulcast (live) and catch-up requests.  England’s semi-final against Croatia saw 4.3 million simulcast requests — The Hub’s biggest ever number for live programming.

“This agreement accelerates the strategic development of our VOD advertising capabilities and provides a technology platform that will enable ITV to create an industry standard for VOD to match the established system for linear advertising,” Carolyn McCall, CEO, ITV, said in a statement.

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“Our partnership will unlock the value of advanced TV for both ITV and their customers across the United Kingdom,” added Kim Perell, CEO of Amobee.

Separately, Amobee is enabling Univision to provide a data-optimized linear television offering to marketers, applying the same digital principles of granular audience targeting and campaign measurement.

“Our relationship with Amobee enhances our ability to create end-to-end solutions for clients who are seeking advanced data solutions and precision targeting against this valuable consumer segment,” said Steve Mandala, president of advertising sales and marketing at Univision.

Dish Expects More Sub Losses When HBO’s Final ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Begins in April

Dish Network lost more than 1 million video subscribers in 2018, including 334,000 in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2018. The satellite pay-TV operator attributed the losses to ongoing carriage disputes with Univision and HBO.

With HBO set to begin the airing the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones,” on April 14, Dish chairman Charlie Ergen believes sub losses could increase unless an agreement is reached. He said Dish subs have learned to live without HBO due in part to the channel’s lack of significant new programming in Q4 (with the exception of “True Detective”).

“I think that realistically you would expect that when “Game of Thrones” comes on you may see a pickup in defections,” Ergen said on Feb. 13 fiscal call – adding that losing long-time distribution partners underscored the changing dynamics of pay-TV in an era of over-the-top video.

Indeed, some analysts attributed 200,000 of Dish’s Q4 sub losses to the HBO dispute – a figure management didn’t entirely dispute – and the reality consumers can access the premium channel as standalone product HBO Now and via Amazon Channels.

CEO Erik Carlson said that with HBO owner AT&T an active satellite competitor (via DirecTV), negotiations remain at an impasse.

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“HBO is demanding a [carriage] contract that would have forced Dish customers to subsidize both HBO and Cinemax even if customers chose not to subscribe to those services,” Carlson said.

Dish charged subscribers $15 and $10 monthly for HBO and Cinemax, respectively, under the previous contract.

The executive said AT&T/HBO’s negotiating strategy underscores Dish’s ongoing opposition to the AT&T/Time Warner merger that created AT&T’s  WarnerMedia unit.

The merger, which has been appealed by the Justice Department, is currently under review by a federal appeals court judge.

“Our view hasn’t changed: AT&T’s uncompromising stance remains the fundamental negative of their merger with Time Warner,” Carlson said.

 

Dish Network Sues Univision Over Streaming Video Patents

Dish Network, owner/operator of online TV pioneer Sling TV, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Univision, the country’s largest Spanish-language TV broadcaster.

The suit, filed Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court in Delaware, alleges Univision’s online TV and related over-the-top video platforms – such as the $9.99 monthly Univision Now and UniMás– are using Dish’s streaming patents without a license.

In an era of OTT video, traditional pay-TV operators are scrambling to offer subscribers and consumers streaming video options – often utilizing licensed third-party technology.

Dish said it informed Univision last July that it needed to pay license fees for patents owned by Move Networks, which Dish/EchoStar acquired in 2011 for $45 million.

The software helps reduce buffering and auto-adjusts video resolution bit-rates depending upon user’s screen size and broadband connection, among other features.

With Dish and Univision currently involved in a carriage fee dispute, Dish also claims Univision offers Univision Now for less than it charges Sling TV subscribers – an allegation Univision denies.

“As we previously informed Dish, we deny that we are in violation of any of its patents. As such, we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these claims,” Univision said in a statement.