NBCU Gets Access to Comcast Data

Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit is finally getting access to viewer data from Comcast set-top boxes.

Linda Yaccarino, chairman of ad sales at NBCU, made the announcement Thursday afternoon at an upfront presentation from the company’s cable entertainment networks.

Under Yaccarino, NBCU has been one of the leaders in using data to improve the targeting and effectiveness of ad campaigns. But Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, had been careful not to make set-top box data available to NBCU, apparently because consumer privacy concerns could have impacted Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. Comcast dropped the merger bid, freeing it from some concerns about government review.

“We will use Comcast set-top box data to power ATP,” Yaccarino said, referring to NBCU’s Audience Targeting Platform announced last year. “We’ll marry viewer data and consumer data at scale,” she said.

Yaccarino said NBCU now has more data than any tech company. “Our data and analytics can do things that no one else in the market can do,” she said.

Yaccarino also said that media plans that sell products are built on three things: great content, tech-savvy innovation and data driven targeting. “That’s exactly what you get from the NBCU portfolio of networks.”

Data has been a hot topic at this year’s upfront. In fact, data was the secret word in a drinking game on the stage of the NBCU Cable upfront. The announcement that NBCU will get access to data from the biggest cable operator was one of the week’s biggest.

NBCU is not expected to have exclusive access to viewer data from Comcast’s set-top boxes.

The viewer data goes through a process that anonymizes and aggregates the information to protect privacy. In addition to enhancing ad sales, set-top data is used by Comcast in a number of businesses, including to improve customer service.

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.