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Cable Technology Feature Article

March 03, 2014

Wheelings & Dealings: Comcast May Purchase FreeWheel for $320M

By Rory Lidstone, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Not content with its recent takeover of Time Warner Cable, Comcast (News - Alert) has moved on to another acquisition, albeit a less major one. Specifically, the mass media and communications company is in talks to acquire online advertising platform FreeWheel for about $320 million, according to Mashable.

Put simply, FreeWheel allows online video content creators to serve ads alongside videos. So far, it has managed a good deal of success as it can include the likes of NBC Universal (News - Alert), Fox and ESPN among its customers. FreeWheel also started handling video advertising for ecommerce giant Amazon recently.

According to a source close to the situation, Comcast’s deal with FreeWheel would not immediately affect FreeWheel’s business operations or its client relationships. That said, FreeWheel does currently serve some of Comcast’s direct competitors, namely DirecTV (News - Alert), so it’s likely there will be some impact.

As for Comcast, the acquisition would be an ideal way for it to boost is streaming business. The company currently offers the X1 streaming content box, as well as streaming movie service Streampix, both of which will likely see boosted revenue by way of FreeWheel’s video advertising tech. Considering the fact that $320 million is chump change for a company that was able to drop $45 billion on Time Warner (News - Alert), it also seems that FreeWheel is anything but a risky acquisition.

However, for the video advertising space as a whole, the acquisition would mark the departure of yet another independent player. As it stands, LiveRail and BrightRoll are the last two major video advertising companies still operating independently.

FreeWheel was founded in 2007 and can count DirecTV, Disney’s Steamboat Ventures and Turner Broadcasting (News - Alert) System as strategic investors that have contributed to its growth and success. The company has also raised institutional money in its seven or so years of operation, most notably from Battery Ventures and Foundation Capital.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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