Comcast, Charter, ViacomCBS Form Blockgraph Joint Venture

With demand for data-driven advertising rising, Comcast Corp., Charter Communication and ViacomCBS have agreed to form a joint venture that would own Blockgraph, a platform aimed at letting marketers and media companies handle data securely.

Blockgraph was started in 2017 by Comcast’s FreeWheel unit and the initiative was joined by Charter and Viacom in 2018.

Jason Manningham, previously general manager of Blockgraph under FreeWheel, has been named CEO of the joint venture, which will be equally owned by the three partners.

The companies declined to say how much they are investing in the venture.

“The value that Blockgraph brings to the industry has never been more important,” said Manningham. “Together with Comcast, Charter and ViacomCBS, we have the opportunity to reshape data driven advertising in a way that’s better and more sustainable for brands, publishers, content distributors and above all else – audiences.”

The companies said that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency among marketers for better targeting and higher returns on their advertising investment.

“When we began to develop Blockgraph several years ago, we knew that the ability to apply data-driven insights to all media, including TV, in a way that protected privacy, was going to be hugely important to the future of our industry. Now, some three years later, that couldn’t be truer, and the alternative that Blockgraph offers could not be more valuable,” said Marcien Jenckes, president of Comcast Advertising.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit has been integrating Blockgraph into its AdSmart platform.

“Bringing better data to television for planning, targeting and measurement represents a huge opportunity for our industry, and above all, for advertisers,” said David Kline, executive VP at Charter and president of Spectrum Reach, its ad division. “In order to recognize this opportunity, however, we need to continually and fully ensure that we can use data in a way that protects the privacy of users through technologies that facilitate aggregated and anonymized use of our data. This is an ongoing concern to be addressed collaboratively across the industry, which is why we are so supportive of Blockgraph.”

“Data confidentiality is a necessity for addressable advertising to work at scale. Blockgraph is a platform that will make that easy to implement,” said John Halley, COO, advertising revenue, and executive VP, advanced marketing solutions, ViacomCBS. “We are committed to solutions that enable us to better serve our advertising partners. Blockgraph has the right business approach and partnership framework to successfully move the video ecosystem forward.” 

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.