BlackArrow Acquisition A Bid To Cozy Up With Buyer Dollars

NickTBlackArrow, a 13-year-old provider of live and video-on-demand ad products to TV operators, was acquired Monday by Cross MediaWorks, the owner of a national media network called Cadent and the full-service Cross Agency.

Although BlackArrow, which has 100 employees, will remain as an independent entity, it will partner with Cross MediaWorks’ other business divisions to create software tools for pay-TV providers, multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), cable operators and advertisers and agencies.

The goal is to improve reporting, data and measurement around converged TV buys.

The reason for the acquisition is that BlackArrow wanted to get closer to demand dollars, said its longtime president Nick Troiano, who will become CEO at Cross MediaWorks.

“While we enabled technology for TV advertising, we didn’t touch the dollars themselves,” Troiano said. “Cross MediaWorks through its Cadent Network, works with every major MVPD and has built out that trust on the agency side. One unique asset is their full service agency that also works with brands and advertisers across all platforms.”

The BlackArrow acquisition is indicative of a bigger trend: More consumers are either prioritizing on-demand viewing with online video services or TV content apps or ditching linear TV altogether. 

BlackArrow hopes to benefit from this trend, since it helps legacy TV operators take advantage of multiscreen video and enables dynamic ad insertion within time-shifted content.

Troiano didn’t hint whether cable conglomerate Comcast (which acquired FreeWheel and Visible World) had also expressed interest in BlackArrow.

“The difference between our deal and being acquired by a single MVPD is it essentially means you become a captive technology provider to that MVPD,” he said. “You need an independent technology solutions company to work across all MVPDs, satellite and over-the-top providers.”

Troiano claims Cross MediaWorks reaches more people nationally, since its Cadent Network partners with more than 200 MVPDs and cable nets, including Verizon FiOS, Cablevision, Time Warner and Comcast. It essentially pools local and regional TV ad inventory from a number of providers and packages unsold national inventory for an array of advertisers.

BlackArrow gives Cross MediaWorks access to technology deployments representing 40 million households – that’s more than 2 billion impressions a month.

It also developed an Audience Aware network, which helps the pay TV ecosystem parse carriage and licensing agreements, and new forms of ad revenue as more streaming apps enter the equation.

Although BlackArrow was well entrenched in the United States, Troiano said the Cross MediaWorks acquisition will help fuel further international expansion efforts underway since last year.

“Some people think ratings declines and consumer fragmentation is just an issue in the US, but it’s happening everywhere,” he said. “We’re not just seeing cord cutting affecting pay TV operators. … Ratings declines from major programmers, broadcasters and cable networks is having a corollary effect on agencies.”


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