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28 April 2022

Blockgraph hits critical mass on second birthday, teases new clients

With the company now celebrating its two-year anniversary, it seems that decentralized, data-driven media network Blockgraph has put to bed Faultline’s early doubts. Despite fears that its tri-ownership (Charter, Comcast and ViacomCBS) would prevent other major telecoms and media companies from joining the initiative, the platform now has a sizable footprint of US-based MVPDs feeding into its anonymized data-sharing ecosystem.

Speaking to Faultline this week, Blockgraph’s CEO, Jason Manningham, says the past few months have seen seismic change in this regard, revealing that Blockgraph has recently onboarded three major operators with a total footprint of 16.9 million pay TV homes and 8.7 million broadband homes. Although we are unable to publish the names just yet (announcements expected in the coming months), we can confirm that this finally takes Blockgraph’s reach outside of its owner’s footprints.

In the US, Blockgraph now spans 51 million pay TV homes, of which around 40 million are addressable-ready, and 71 million broadband homes. Ignoring the slew of tiny cablecos, Faultline currently counts around 72 million pay TV homes in the US, and around 95 million broadband homes, which shows that Blockgraph is now comfortably above a two-thirds market penetration in both camps.

There is more good news on the horizon, as Manningham teased two “very active conversations” with a leading MNO and a satellite provider, which could take Blockgraph’s footprint up to 69 million pay TV homes and 77 million broadband homes.

“We have finally hit critical mass for distribution,” Manningham proudly proclaimed, although there are aims to expand further. Manningham notes that the long tail of smaller US operators is important for Blockgraph’s advertising capabilities in local markets – one of the more resilient pay TV segments in the US.

This tri-owned version of Blockgraph was divvied up in early 2020, following a three-year incubation period in Comcast’s Freewheel. The aim was to create a platform that could fuel data-driven, cross platform advertising by opening up silos of audience data in a privacy compliant way. Blockgraph’s technology allows for audience data to be matched with household data from cable company’s subscriber lists without any sensitive data being leaked to the wrong parties.

Manningham still believes that the best way for linear advertisers to find their desired audiences is by using the data that comes straight from the “distributors” – MVPDs of all shapes and sizes. Although very much a video platform, Manningham says that Blockgraph’s preferred distributors are not pure-play MVPDs, but cablecos that also provide broadband services, due to the cross-platform data that this allows.

We would imagine that much of this expansion has come off the back of the great resignation from Nielsen that swept the US broadcasting industry in the wake of various undercounting scandals. Hesitant to trash talk Nielsen, Manningham instead sidestepped our line of questioning, pointing to the emerging line-up of measurement vendors that have stepped up to the mark as a “gold rush” for Blockgraph.

While operators are feeding in much of the household data that makes Blockgraph valuable, on the other end of the system are an increasingly diverse range of vendors and media companies.

Manningham expressed surprise at how quick measurement vendors were to integrate data from Blockgraph, noting that companies like Invidi-owned TVSquared can take audiences from agencies and match them against addressable supply. Blockgraph’s technology can also be white-labelled by third parties, with identity companies like TransUnion selling the software on to their own clients to provide ID resolution.

In total, Blockgraph now hosts 25 clients on the platform, including operators, media companies and vendors.

Although Blockgraph seems largely focused on linear audience data for the moment, Manningham says that AVoD platforms are also a promising customer segment.

While they would like you to think otherwise, Faultline understands that many of the leading AVoD services still source much of their user data from increasingly questionable digital signals like IP addresses and cookies.

Blockgraph can resolve these identifiers to a household and match it with linear viewership, allowing measurement companies and ad servers to identify and prevent duplicated reach of audiences. Although unable to publish it yet, Manningham did share that a flagship AVoD service of one of Blockgraph’s pre-existing customers is already served by the technology.

Despite the numerous successes as of late, Manningham was realistic about Blockgraph’s remit for expansion, accepting that YouTube is unlikely to sign up any time soon. “Some companies have big enough scale to justify being walled gardens, but Blockgraph has no value for walled gardens. It is about sharing data between two or more partners,” he explained.