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FreeWheel expands programmatic ad capabilities across live streaming events

The logo of Comcast's advertising technology business unit, FreeWheel. (Courtesy logo, Graphic by The Desk)
The logo of Comcast’s advertising technology business unit, FreeWheel. (Courtesy logo, Graphic by The Desk)

Comcast’s advertising technology business unit FreeWheel has lifted the curtain on a new set of products that will allow advertisers to buy programmatic commercial inventory against live events delivered over streaming channels.

Those live events include the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, which Comcast’s entertainment subsidiary, NBC Universal, holds the telecast rights to in the United States. This year, all games from the 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be streamed live on Peacock, Comcast’s direct-to-consumer service, with opportunities for advertisers to buy commercial slots before, during and after events.

“Streaming opened the path for publishers to transact programmatically within their highly valuable live inventory — but most programmers, understandably, took a walk, jog, run approach,” Mark McGee, the General Manager at FreeWheel, said in a statement. “Now, with advanced ad technologies, proven business models, and unprecedented scale of streaming audiences, we’re at a new stage in the programmatic evolution.”

FreeWheel has worked with live event distributors in the past to unlock key advertising opportunities, including the National Football League’s championship Super Bowl game and the FIFA Men’s World Cup soccer tournament. It also handles ad buy opportunities during regional and national telecasts from Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Premier League, NCAA and others.

With more major sporting events shifting over to streaming platforms, FreeWheel sees an opportunity to super-serve audiences and ad buyers alike with more-targeted, customized campaigns and messaging.

To expedite this, FreeWheel is introducing a slate of additional capabilities that helps expedite programmatic activations via creative pre-approvals and transcoding to minimize latency; expand advertiser diversity by increasing inventory opportunities for more advertisers; address real-time surges in viewership during events by scaling server resources accordingly; and adjusting campaign pacing to account for higher viewership in order to maintain seamless ad experiences.

FreeWheel says the added capabilities and resiliency of its products will increase confidence among ad buyers that their brand campaigns will run as planned, enhance fill rates and monetization opportunities for publishers, afford grater access for new advertisers who use programmatic buys as part of their strategy, and offer more-personalized experiences to viewers with fewer ad repeats.

“There are still different approaches for different events, but publishers interested in opening their premier inventory to automated trading, can do so with confidence,” McGee continued. “As they say, it’s only live once — which is what makes these events so special for advertisers.”

“As our industry shifts to an always on marketplace, we have been able to bring in advertisers of all sizes to our content across our entire ecosystem through programmatic, especially to the highly coveted sports and live events programming we air,” Mark Marshall, the Chairman of Global Advertising at NBC Universal, said on Tuesday. “This allows for a greater diversity of marketers to access our premiere content, while also enhancing targeting and engagement with the right audiences. We are excited for the continued marriage of premiere programming and advanced ad technologies, as its impact will be unsurpassed.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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