Turner's FreeWheel Deal Could Be 'Glue' for TV Everywhere

With Vevo, Other Distribution Agreements in Place, Ad Server Is at the Center of the New Video Economy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Turner Broadcasting System adopted a new ad server that may also play a key role in Time Warner's TV Everywhere initiative.

FreeWheel will serve video ads on several of Turner's online properties including CNN.com.
FreeWheel will serve video ads on several of Turner's online properties including CNN.com.
Turner inked a deal with FreeWheel to serve video ads for its online properties, such as CNN.com, PGA.com, Nascar.com and NBA.com. In addition, it gives parent Time Warner a solution for how to serve ads into long-form TV content, which it will soon begin to distribute online.

Time Warner's TV Everywhere initiative, now being tested in several markets, is an attempt to make broadcast and cable programming available online, on-demand and free, with a cable subscription. Cable customers need to "authenticate" their subscription in order to gain access to those shows they're already paying for as part of a cable package.

Turner will distribute its programming online with advertising -- much as it does on TV -- and the new system will allow it to insert those ads into shows, whether it's a series on TBS or a news clip from CNN, across the web.

Enabling 'TV Everywhere'
"When we look out on the horizon on TV Everywhere, it allows us to tie the pieces together -- it is the glue that allows us to insert ads in an authenticated model," said Walker Jacobs, senior-VP, Turner Sports and Entertainment.

Initially, Turner is syncing its web video on FreeWheel's platform, allowing Turner to control what ads are shown to whom on its own sites,as well as distribution partners such as Yahoo and YouTube. The system allows Turner to get credit for a view on a third-party site, such as Yahoo, while the distributor gets credit for any display ad impressions around the video.

FreeWheel also handles ad revenue splits with distributors, streamlining the complex economics of each deal. But for Turner, the deal means it can sell its own ads and insert them wherever its video is embedded or syndicated. "We can exclusively represent our brands wherever they exist," Mr. Jacobs said.

In addition to Turner, FreeWheel recently added Vevo, the joint venture between Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media Co. Specifically, FreeWheel enables Vevo's business model by allowing the joint venture to serve its own ads into videos watched on YouTube.

FreeWheel, dreamed up by ex-DoubleClick execs and founded in 2007, has tied up video ad serving for an expanding group of media companies, including Warner Music Group, CBS and Discovery, as well as startups like Blip.tv. Among its competitors are Auditude, which has a deal with Viacom, and DoubleClick itself, which has its In-Stream video ad server.

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