BlackArrow Connects With Virgin Media

BlackArrow has hit its first European target -- Virgin Media, the U.K.’s largest cable operator.

The advanced ad firm and the MSO have struck a partnership to insert ads into video-on-demand content that's made available on Virgin Media’s QAM-based set-top boxes, including its new TiVo-powered hybrid QAM/IP platform, as well as mobile devices that support the operator’s authenticated TV Anywhere service.   

The win is BlackArrow’s first in Europe, and comes about three months after the company announced it had  expanded into the region and opened an office in London.

The agreement with Virgin Media, an MSO acquired last year by Liberty Global, will give BlackArrow the potential to reach about 5.3 million more set-tops/TV screens, and a broader range of IP-connected devices that are outfitted with the cable operator’s app.

With the addition of Virgin Media, BlackArrow estimates that its platform will have a reach of more than 37 million homes, a figure that also factors in deployments with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Rogers Communications.

The win with Virgin Media “solidifies our expansion strategy in Europe…it’s a true multiscreen deployment,” said BlackArrow president Nick Troiano, who is also assuming the duties of CEO following the recent resignation of Dean Denhart.

Troiano said BlackArrow and Virgin Media expect to reach commercial deployment of the new dynamic advertising insertion platform during the first quarter of 2015, starting at the set-top box, followed by an expansion to Virgin Media’s TV Anywhere service.

“We are excited to be partnering with BlackArrow. Working with them will allow us to offer more efficient and flexible ad models to better support the changing needs of our advertisers and broadcast partners,” Scott Kewley, Virgin Media’s director of digital entertainment, said in a statement. “We look forward to exploring these advanced initiatives in 2015.”