CES 2020: Gracenote Helps Bridge Linear-Digital TV Ad Gap; TiVo Unveils HDMI Streamer

LAS VEGAS — With the help of Gracenote’s metadata and automatic content recognition technologies, company parent Nielsen has unveiled a new addressable TV advertising platform, one that would allow programmers to target specific ads to specific households within linear TV broadcasts.

A+E Networks, AMC Networks, CBS, Discovery, Fox, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia and others will test the solution over the next several months, evaluating how it interoperates with existing and evolving workflows, before a planned third or fourth quarter 2020 launch.

“We really found an opportunity to bring together the unique assets, including Gracenote, that Nielsen has brought together to accomplish this,” said Kelly Abcarian, GM of advanced video advertising for Nielsen. “As programmers take on the challenge of unlocking the value of their 14 minutes per hour of advertising time, they require solutions to manage complex addressability workflows.

“Having programmers engage with Nielsen’s Addressable TV Advertising solution to execute test campaigns with brands will allow us to evaluate the end-to-end touchpoints across an addressable TV media buy.”

Nielsen’s Addressable TV Advertising solution offers programmers an open, modular platform to manage addressable TV inventory and campaigns, opening up additional sales options to better optimize the value of their ad inventory, she said.

“A+E Networks is excited to continue our collaboration with Nielsen, following up on our previous trial of addressable ad campaigns,” said Peter Olsen, EVP, of ad sales for A+E Networks. “This initiative aligns with our goal of bringing to market practical innovations with a focus on transparency, value, and provable outcomes. Combining our great storytelling with relevant and effective advertising helps our partners connect with their consumers and leverage the power of television to propel their business forward.”

The platform’s approach is compatible with existing industry standards, including VAST and SCTE, and integrates with third-party components that service all sides of the ecosystem, Nielsen said.

“WarnerMedia has spent the last half-decade developing industry-leading audience-based capabilities that empower advertising to deliver more relevant brand messaging to the audiences that matter most to their business,” said Dan Aversano, SVP of ad innovation and programmatic solutions for WarnerMedia Ad Sales. “We believe that all digital and linear modalities where consumers engage with our premium content should be addressable. This will help create more engaging and relevant ad experiences for our consumers and more effective advertising for agency and advertiser partners. We look forward to working with Nielsen through this beta period to uncover new opportunities to expand our effort towards that goal.”

Also at CES 2020:

In partnership with Sling TV, TiVo unveiled TiVo Stream 4K, an HDMI-based streamer with live TV and cloud DVR from the Sling TV app, featuring leading content services. The aim of the new device is to allow consumers to create their own bundle of entertainment sources using an intuitive interface.

The device will launch with Sling TV as a preferred source for subscription TV, with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, YouTube and other popular services offered as well. TiVo+ will be featured as the preferred source of free, ad-sponsored content.

TiVo Stream 4K — which includes a remote and small device that plugs into HDMI ports on TVs — will deliver Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision HDR, and will debut in April for $50.

“With TiVo Stream 4K, we have created a dramatically better experience for viewers who are tired of hunting through apps and interfaces to find the amazing content available through online content providers,” said Dave Shull, president and CEO of TiVo. “We are excited to help TV lovers and occasional viewers alike make the most of their time in front of the screen and bring together the best of the streaming and TV experiences.”

Warren Schlichting EVP and group president of Sling TV, added: “Our subscribers are always looking for new ways to quickly find content they enjoy. This strategic relationship will not only help our current subscribers rediscover TiVo, it will make it easier for new Sling subscribers to make the transition to streaming video.”

Additionally at CES, TiVo announced that it is adding an additional 23 new channels its TiVo+ service, bringing its total to 49.

• Sony Electronics used its annual CES press event to debut a series of new 8K and 4K LED and 4K OLED televisions, all offering top-line picture processors, Netflix Calibrated Mode and IMAX Enhanced 1 viewing options, and Ambient Optimization, a new technology that optimizes picture and sound quality by detecting where the customer views their TV during initial setup, calibrating sound quality based on the environment.

“Delivering a personalized, immersive and true-to-life viewing experience is a core focus when developing our next generation TVs,” said Mike Fasulo, president and COO of Sony Electronics North America. “This lineup offers incredible new features to optimize the consumer experience and continue to deliver the creator’s intent in both 4K and 8K resolution.”

With upcoming next-gen gaming consoles in mind, several of the new models will support 8K HDR resolution, 4K 120 fps high frame rate and faster response times via the HDMI inputs, Sony said in a press release.

The Z8H 8K LED and at least one other model will feature Sony’s new Frame Tweeter technology, which vibrates the frame of the TV to emit sound, offering a new directional listening option. OLED sets will feature Sony’s X-Motion Clarity tech for video, which refreshes content in real-time to offer a clearer view. And all of Sony’s new sets will feature Android TV with Google Assistant, Google Play Store and Chromecast built-in.

Sony’s X950H and Z8H sets will also be voice-activated and will work in concert with Google Assistant.

• The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) shared data showing U.S. consumer tech sales will hit a record $422 billion in 2020, with spending on software and streaming services — covering music, movies and TV, and video gaming — projected to hit $81.2 billion, up 11% year over year.

The popularity of wireless earbuds, and more demand for devices enabled with 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI), are helping drive the expected overall 4% year-over-year growth in spending, according to CTA’s forecast.

“More and more consumers are embracing the faster connectivity, advanced intelligence and seemingly infinite content that technology offers today — pushing consumer technology industry revenues toward another record-setting year in 2020,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA. “We’ll see advancements in 5G connectivity and AI play out across the CES 2020 show floor this week – from digital health to self-driving vehicles and smart homes – vital technologies that are changing our lives for the better.”

Streaming service spending alone is expected to hit $24.1 billion in 2020, up nearly 30%, and on-demand music services will account for $9 billion in revenue, up 15%. The video game software and services category will hit $38.3 billion in revenue in 2020, up 5%, according to the report.

“The last decade was about the Internet of Things – but now, we kick off a new decade defined by the Intelligence of Things,” says Steve Koenig, VP of market research for CTA. “Connected intelligence defines today’s device ecosystem from consumer favorites such as smartphones and TVs to an expanding universe of smart home solutions making intelligent living spaces a reality. Over the next 10 years, the dynamic of connected intelligence will grow apace with advancing 5G networks and innovative applications of AI to propel the consumer tech industry forward — and with it consumer experiences, safety, health and more.”

One area of note is TVs: TV manufacturers are expected to ship 40.8 million units in 2020 (up 2%), but the $23.4 billion in expected revenue is even with what 2019 brought. 4K UHD sets are set to account for 25 million units sold (a 12% increase) and $17.6 billion in revenue (up 2%). 8K UHD TVs could cross the $1 billion milestone for the first time, with more than 500,000 units sold.