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Discovery Strikes Pact for Smart TV Data

Discovery has long depended on traditional TV ratings to measure the activity of viewers of networks like HGTV and TLC. Now it’s hoping to bring another yardstick into the field.

The New York owner of Discovery Channel and Food Network said it has struck a strategic partnership with Inscape, a provider of viewing data of so-called “smart TVs”
that will help it gauge viewer attention from more than 12 million broadband-enabled TV sets in the U.S. Inscape is a subsidiary of Vizio, the TV manufacturer. The pact, Discovery said, “will add to Discovery’s expanding set of advanced measurement products and tools,” and give the media company data on viewer selections in real-time.

The company has in recent weeks articulated a new strategy that hinges on making its content available to streaming audiences.  David Zaslav, Discovery’s CEO earlier this month suggested during a conference call with investors that the company was mulling whether it could aggregate the hundreds of hours it owns in unscripted content for its own potential content offering. “We’re looking now at whether we should just aggregate,” he said.  “More to come on that in the next several months.” Discovery recently launched a subscription-based streaming-video outlet devoted to content from Food Network called Food Network Kitchen.

Ad revenue from spending on connected TVs is seen growing 37.6% in 2019 to $6.94 billion, according to eMarketer, a market-research firm. By 2021, it seen totaling more than $10 billion, eMarketer said.

“With new players, new data sets and new companies truly committed to innovating, Discovery believes the time is right to rearchitect media measurement and currency around new players in the industry and unlock value for our partners,” said David Leavy, Discovery’s chief corporate operating officer, in a statement.   “Inscape is one of the most dynamic companies in the space, and we are excited to be their partner and leverage their real-time approach to audience segmentation, viewing measurement, consumer behavior and more.  The current approach is too inefficient, and we believe with Inscape and all of our efforts across media measurement, we can reimagine how audience measurement is captured and sold across the new products and platforms of the future and create more value overall.”

Discovery intends to use Inscape to supplement data it uses from Nielsen, the measurement company whose ratings have long helped guide relationships between TV networks and advertisers. Discovery and Nielsen are said to be nearing the end of their current contract. “Discovery Networks is a longstanding, trusted and valued client and we look forward to reaching a mutually-beneficial agreement with them in the near future,” Nielsen said in a statement provided to Variety in late October.

“We’re excited to deepen our relationship with Discovery and look forward to partnering with them on innovations that move their business and the entire industry forward,” said Jodie McAfee, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Inscape, in a statement.

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