Connected TV

Comcast’s FreeWheel to Acquire Beeswax in Major Connected TV Move

The deal which brings the DSP into the Comcast fold is the latest ad tech acquisition centered on Connected TV

Comcast’s FreeWheel to Acquire Beeswax in Major Connected TV Move

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In the latest escalation of the Connected TV arms race, Comcast’s FreeWheel announced their plans to acquire DSP Beeswax in an effort to bolster their streaming television advertising capabilities. 

Offering media buyers a “bidder-as-a-service” programmatic buying model with access to CTV inventory, Beeswax proved to be an attractive acquisition target. Commenting on the deal, FreeWheel said it was motivated by a desire to capitalize on the fast growing CTV landscape.  

The move is the most recent in a growing number of ad-tech industry acquisitions centered around CTV. The 2020 merger of Rubicon Project and Telaria (now collectively known as Magnite), as well as Roku’s 2019 acquisition of Dataxu have marked a trend in CTV advertising consolidation. This isn’t Comcast’s first move in this space, either. In 2018, FreeWheel announced a revamped ad server which was meant to open advertiser access to streaming TV inventory. 

Now having taken a step further with a full blown acquisition of a major DSP, Comcast’s move shows there’s more than just a handful of major players in the digital ad space that are willing to splash the cash to stake a claim in CTV. 

Beeswax Had Seen Major Connected TV Volume

“It should not be news to anyone in the advertising world that Connected TV is the fastest growing area of programmatic,” Beeswax CEO Ari Paparo wrote in a blog post detailing the deal. After the year CTV has had in terms of growth, he’s not wrong about that.

Back in February, Adweek reported Beeswax was seeing CTV make up 10-15% of their total business. Importantly, that number was reported before the major gains streaming made over the course of 2020. COVID-19 led many consumers to stay in and stream, resulting in 81% YoY upticks in CTV viewing time reported. There’s no question that 10-15% has ballooned since then—enough so to convince Comcast to pull the trigger on a deal.

Expect More Deals in 2021

Connected TV’s growth both as an entertainment medium and a viable ad channel has made it an attractive space for both publishers and advertisers. For publishers, it helps them reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers (those who have never subscribed to cable). For advertisers, it gives them an ad channel that provides a TV ad experience, but paired with advanced targeting and measurement capabilities. 

It’s those capabilities that will attract more acquisition activity in the coming year. The opportunity CTV presents advertisers is massive, one which publishers, DSPs, and SaaS ad solutions will want to be well-positioned for. The war to attract CTV ad budgets looks to be a rather intense one in 2021, and we can players to make moves to ensure they’re able to capture them.

As more advertisers tap into CTV, expect an uptick of M&A headlines in the coming year. It’s only a matter of time before more major players break out the checkbook to buy into a bigger piece of the CTV ad market. The big question is: who is next?