Bending the Curve: TV + Digital Video

James Rothwell VP, Marketing, Comcast Advertising

Modern TV audiences watch where and when they want to—as a result, advertisers have to work harder and be more strategic in order to find the optimal audience across all screens. TV programmers and operators have been converging their sales and operations to increasingly deliver advertising across both linear and digital channels. The advertising “Holy Grail” is finding the right combination of TV and digital video to reach those valuable audiences in the most efficient way possible.

In simpler times, advertisers could get that efficiency via linear TV only. As viewership increasingly fragments across linear and digital video, the entire TV ecosystem is in a state of transition that requires an advanced set of data and insights to manage the delivery of campaigns to optimize reach and frequency.

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The latest position from the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video outlines the history,  challenge and opportunity that the TV industry faces to reaggregate audiences more effectively across all forms of premium video. The visual guide, “Bending the Curve: TV + Digital Video” also highlights case studies of real-life incremental reach cost curves and overlaps of linear and digital audiences across three brands, and custom research of buying patterns.


Despite the progress being made in terms of data quality and technical solutions in the advanced TV space, there are challenges that make attaining fully de-duplicated reach and optimal frequency more complex:

  • Linear and digital audiences are not mutually-exclusive and many heavy streamers still consume hours of linear TV across multiple publishers.
  • Today, programmers and operators are increasingly able to de-duplicate their own audiences, but an advertiser needs to be able to deduplicate across all channels and platforms.
  • While TV viewers are scattered across the multitude of channels, digital video is even more fragmented with different streaming services, platforms and devices.
  • Linear TV can be very efficient up to a certain point in terms of target reach, but then incremental reach percentage points climb exponentially.


The TV industry has an opportunity to help advertisers bend that reach cost curve downwards by combining digital and addressable video, finding incremental audiences and frequency on top of their linear schedule.

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And buyers understand the opportunity: in a 2019 Ad Perceptions study outlined in the recent FreeWheel Video Marketplace Report, 52% of buyers said that their agency now plans and buys linear TV and digital video together, with 91% saying they will do so within two years. Buyers and brands also identified digital video and advanced TV to be two of the three most likely investment channels to supplement linear TV in terms of reach.


 There is no question that with advanced converged data sets, we are getting closer as an industry to understanding cross-channel audience reach and frequency. There are still a number of technology and data enhancements that will enable true de-duplicated reach across all video, but with both sides of the aisle looking to achieve the same goals, the future is bright.

To view the full FreeWheel Council for Premium Video visual guide, click here (pdf will open in a new tab).