While CTV Grabs Headlines, Roku Heats Up Linear With Nielsen Deal

Dave Morgan
Dave Morgan  |  Chief Executive Officer
Published: Jun. 14, 2021

While the creation of Warner Bros. Discovery and Amazon’s purchase of MGM have dominated the industry news in recent weeks, the most important media deal of the year so far from my perspective remains Roku’s acquisition of Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising unit.

Yes, streaming-video viewing is hot and getting hotter, but Roku’s move, which will allow it to deliver dynamic advertising into linear TV programming, makes it clear that the company isn’t planning to sit back and wait for linear TV ad budgets to come to it.

Instead, Roku is now taking its CTV tech and chops directly into the linear TV ad world.

I expect this deal to have a far greater impact on the future of both the CTV and linear ad market than any other deal that we have seen in this space in years. Here are two big reasons why:

Roku establishes itself as the next-generation video distributor. TV programmers and networks have tried for years to get away from the chokeholds that conventional television distributors (cable and satellite companies) have had on their businesses. In one fell swoop, Roku massively upped its leverage and control over content owners, given its existing position controlling the apps on its devices and on the operating systems of its TV device partners.

Now, Roku isn’t just able to take a cut of the streamed ads (delivered on apps powered by its tech), but it’s also going into the core of linear TV to eventually sell and serve ads in the linear channels as well.

As Roku’s platform general manager Scott Rosenberg noted, "We view the deal with Nielsen as another step in expanding the breadth and variety of TV advertising we can help positively influence.”

Roku solidifies the independent measurement for its offering. This deal ensured that Nielsen has a long-term supply of robust, real-time viewing data across a massive number of streaming viewers, which is great for both Roku and Nielsen.

Nielsen’s long-term position as the primary (only) true cross-channel measurement provider is locked in and unassailable for years to come. Roku is guaranteed that the measurements trusted by the TV advertisers whose budgets it covets find similar trusted measurement in streaming as well, with a large portion of that based on its own data.

Is Roku now poised to be the Comcast, Charter and DirecTV of the future? I say yes, though almost certainly a more benevolent and modern version.

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An earlier version of this blog was originally published by MediaPost.