FreeWheel launches live streaming events programmatic suite


FreeWheel, a global technology platform for the television advertising industry, has launched an enhanced product suite for programmatic transactions on live streaming events — including the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024.

‘It’s only live once’ study

In addition, FreeWheel released a new report entitled, “It’s Only Live Once: How TV Advertisers Can Capture Viewers in the Moment… and How Streaming Is Changing the Game,” adding additional support for marketers interested in advertising and exploring programmatic opportunities in the live streaming environment.

As the report asserts, live events continue to offer advertisers large, simultaneous audiences, highly engaged viewing environments, and positive brand associations, yet as live events begin to move onto streaming platforms, challenges also present themselves.

Ad technologies must deliver an advertiser’s message into a dynamic environment with millions of simultaneous views, with little room for failure or errors.

Hence, the roll out of FreeWheel’s new capabilities that solve some of the key challenges of transacting programmatically within live events.

“Streaming opened the path for publishers to transact programmatically within their highly valuable live inventory., said Mark McKee, General Manager, FreeWheel.

“But most programmers, understandably, took a walk, jog, run approach.

“Now, with advanced ad technologies, proven business models, and unprecedented scale of streaming audiences, we’re at a new stage in the programmatic evolution”.

“There are still different approaches for different events, but publishers interested in opening their premier inventory to automated trading, can do so with confidence.

“As they say, it’s only live once, which is what makes these events so special for advertisers.”

New Capabilities for Live Event Advertising

FreeWheel has a history of ad serving at scale into live events, such as the Tour de France, the Super Bowl and FIFA World Cup; to major sports leagues including the Premier League, and renowned competitions such as the Champions League, and Six Nations Championship; and an array of regional sports networks.

As more major events move to streaming, sometimes as the sole distribution platform, publishers can serve a more customised ad experience to viewers, and that ability increases with the use of real-time programmatic capabilities.

At the same time, however, the magnitude and complexity of digital ad serving escalates, due to concurrent viewing spikes, making pacing and latency control even more critical.

To meet these new demands, FreeWheel is introducing now and over the next few months a suite of new capabilities to ensure smooth delivery of ads even during the largest streaming events.

These include the ability to:

  • Expedite programmatic activation via creative pre-approvals and transcoding to minimize latency
  • Expand advertiser diversity by increasing inventory opportunities for more advertisers
  • Anticipate real time surges in live viewership to properly scale server capacity
  • Adjust campaign pacing to account for high viewership to maintain a seamless ad experience

These new capabilities offer several benefits to advertisers and publishers alike, including:

  • Increased reliability and confidence that ads will run as planned
  • Enhanced fill rates and monetisation for publishers
  • Greater access for new advertisers who leverage programmatic as a primary buying strategy
  • More personalised ad experience for viewers with fewer repetitive ads

Why is Live TV Special?

According to FreeWheel’s new report, the appetite for live programming continues to grow.

Whether tuning in to tentpole events like the Tour de France – one of the most watched races worldwide, drawing in record numbers internationally – or in-season football or rugby matches, global viewers are spending an estimated 53 minutes per day on live sports content.

There are three broad drivers of its appeal:

  • It is current—the top reason viewers watch live programming is that it happens in real-time;
  • It is engaging – live events garner longer tune-in than other programmes, with 36% of global sports fans watching live games in their entirety;
  • It is communal—live events are more likely to be viewed by multiple people together, with 54% of sports viewers saying they often watch live sports with others.