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The TV Industrial Complex Fights Back With More VOD, Better VOD Ads

New terms for TV Industry watchers: "stacking rights" and "dynamic ad insertion." Here's what they mean.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The traditional TV industry may be reaching its apex, at least when it comes to ads. But the TV Industrial Complex won’t go down without a fight.

Here’s a press release from Comcast* and Turner that brandishes two of the weapons they’re using: “Stacking rights” and “Dynamic ad insertion.”

Wait! Don’t go! These are boring words for relatively basic ideas, but they’re still important for TV programmers and pay-TV providers. Here’s why:

  • Stacking rights just means “the ability to show viewers the entire current season of a show, instead of just the last few episodes, via video on demand systems.”
  • Dynamic ad insertion just means “the ability to put new, relevant ads into video on demand repeats, instead of musty spots that we loaded into the system weeks ago.”

So in this case, what this means is: Comcast will have the ability to show every episode from the current season of some of Turner’s shows, like “Falling Skies” and “Robot Chicken,” on VOD. And it will have the ability to put new ads into those shows when you watch them.

That’s supposed to help Comcast, by making its pay-TV offering more appealing, especially against Web TV services that specialize in TV repeats, like Netflix and Hulu. And it’s supposed to help Turner, by giving viewers additional chances to see its shows, and to make more money when they do.

Not earthshaking. More like incremental. But VOD is particularly important to the TV Industrial Complex, because it’s increasing, while live TV viewing stalls out. So if it can make that stuff more appealing to customers — and make more money from it — then that could be meaningful in the long run.

* Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is an investor in Re/code.

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