Charter Invests in Dolan Data Analytics Company

Charter Communications has made an investment in 605, the data firm started by the former Cablevision Systems executive Kristin Dolan.

As part of the deal, 605 will have access to data from Charter set-top boxes for its analytics business. 605 is also building a planning tool for Charter’s Spectrum Reach advertising division that will help the cable operator’s sales people optimize and target ad campaigns for local clients.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Charter will have two of the four seats on the board of 605, which was originally funded by members of the Dolan family, which sold Cablevision to Altice in 2016.

Dolan noted that she worked with the new board members—David Kline, executive VP of Charter and president of Spectrum Reach and James Blackley, executive VP, engineering and information technology, Charter Communications—as well Charter CEO Tom Rutledge at Cablevision.

“The opportunity to work with people that we know really well and that we trust and that we can establish a true partnership with was one of the most critical pieces of this deal,” says Dolan.

Dolan, who is CEO and founder of 605, and her husband, James Dolan, former CEO of Cablevision and now executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Co., are the other board members.

For 605, the first order of business will be launching the media planning tool AudienceApp for Spectrum Reach.

Kline says AudienceApp will “revolutionize the way we’re selling local cable in all our markets.”

He says sales reps will be able to walk into car dealerships or restaurants and, in four easy steps on an iPad show clients how they can get “highly optimized linear television schedules that will really make their cash registers ring and enhance their business.”

AudienceApp is due to be launched in Austin on August 15. Kline expects it to be rolled out in New York and Los Angeles by the end of the year and be in all Charter markets by the middle of next year.

“For us this it’s really going to kick start a revolution, which is to start to sell impress-based buying in the TV space,” Kline says. “This tool is going to be in the hands of every one of our 1,500 commissioned sales people across the country. They’re all selling the same way and that they’re going to start to get into impression-based selling very similar to what digital did before us.”

While AudienceApp will initially work on linear TV, Kline expects it to be able to expand to include video on demand, impressions from viewing on Charter apps and addressable advertising.

Kline says Charter is benefiting from 605’s expertise in working with data. And 605 benefits from “what we think is some of the best aggregated and anonymized TV viewership data in the business,” he said. “It was sort of a mutual need.”

The data will be aggregated and anonymized in order to protect subscriber privacy.

The agreement is non-exclusive and Charter has already licensed its set-top data to companies including Nielsen and comScore.

But as a partner 605 have has gotten a license to use the data in unlimited ways, not just to do audience measurement.

“We have about 40 million households from which we’re aggregating data now. But the relationship with Charter is a deeper one, because of the volume of data and because we have the ability to append to a lot of different elements of the data,” Dolan says.

605 will be able to build similar apps for national programmers, other MVPDs or interconnects, she says, but “our business is really around analytics and insights.”

While getting the app done is a priority, 605 will also be using the Charter data to help with the national advertising partners and national brands it works with, Dolan says.

Dolan is interested in acquiring more data for 605, but doing another similar deal with another operator is unlikely in the near term.

“At this point this deal was a big one and we’re going to want to let it settle,” she said. “I think bartering is interesting. We want to acquire as much data as possible, so there will be any number of solutions. But Charter is the big fish.”

Surprisingly, 605 does not have a data deal with Altice for the Cablevision set-top data.

Dolan says development in the industry and announcements by network groups about using data to sell advertising means her company is in the right place at the right time.

“We’re very jazzed about what’s going on in the industry in general,” she said. “The industry is moving in the direction of selling television and using television the same way people utilize digital. We’re big believers. It’s an important marketing vehicle and people who be given the opportunity to utilize it in the same way they utilize digital. So this is a big step in that direction and its sort of a pivotal moment in the industry. We’re excited to be part of it.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.