Tegna expands OTT reach with Tubi TV investment

US broadcaster Tegna has distinguished itself from the pack in its mission to cash in on the rise of OTT viewing and digital advertising by monetizing its content on digital platforms, and helping its advertiser clients place local ads across digital and streaming ad-supported services.

Broadcasters are facing a dual-frontline battle for survival in the age of OTT; not only are their viewers moving online, but their advertisers are, too. Regional and local advertisers have slipped through the cracks during the digital transition. As audiences have fragmented across devices and platforms, regional and local advertisers have a hard time reaching their DMAs across ad-supported OTT services.

To combat this, Tegna launched Premion, an OTT ad network that enables local advertisers to reach audiences across OTT services. The ad network focuses on long-form and premium content, and has a network of over 80 OTT services that it is working with, including Sling TV, Xumo and Pluto TV.

Unifying media campaigns across OTT video services is challenging, as each service has its owns rules and specifications for advertising, and these deals are often made through direct buys, rather than through automated platforms. Tegna is hoping to address this disconnect by putting its own sales team and business relationships with content owners to aggregate inventory across OTT services for local and regional advertisers. It’s created what it claims to be a one-stop shop for advertisers to launch media campaigns across multiple OTT services at once.

In service of this expansion, Tegna has invested an undisclosed amount of money in the OTT movie and TV service, Tubi TV. Tubi TV actually began as an OTT ad platform called AdRise, which helped long-form content customers like Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate distribute and monetize content on connected TVs and other OTT devices. AdRise’s big claim to fame was that it had created SDKs that integrated all the major connected TV platforms, ranging from smart TVs to gaming consoles to players like Roku and Amazon Fire for ad placement, thereby overcoming one of the biggest fragmentation hurdles to connected TV advertising,

After pivoting towards ad-supported video streaming, Tubi began licensing old library content from Lionsgate, Starz, Paramount, MGM and others, building out an ad-supported movie and TV service akin to Sony’s Crackle. In fact, Tubi hired former Crackle SVP of programming and marketing, Adam Lewinson, late last year to serve as new chief content officer. The company has significantly grown its content library over the past two years, and now has some 200 content partners.

Tubi TV now calls itself a “streaming TV network” and currently boasts of a rotating library of some 7,500 movies and TV series per month available for users to stream for free, with about five minutes of ads for every 30 minutes of content. It also has a personalization engine and proprietary onboarding process that enables viewers to receive customized viewing experiences.

“Tubi TV strongly aligns with Tegna’s focus on OTT content and innovative advertising solutions,” said Dave Lougee, president and CEO, Tegna. “Through this transaction, we continue to fuel Premion’s growth trajectory and will enhance their ability to deliver unique and high-performing ads in a way no one else can.” Under the deal, Tubi TV will distribute Tegna’s local news and other digital content to viewers.

Tubi doesn’t share its audience reach or usage stats, but claims that it is larger than CBS All Access and HBO Now combined. That would put it somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million registered users. In the meantime, Tubi TV has bolstered its ad revenue by selling the viewer data it gathers on its platform to marketers. Now, it will be offering that data up to Tegna’s advertising partners, too.