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Cable Consortium Canoe Ventures Is Sinking, Says 'Post'

It's lost top execs and failed to attract dollars
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Three years ago, a consortium of major cable companies launched Canoe Ventures, a joint venture that would allow advertisers to buy targeted ads. But despite its $150 million investment and staff of 150 people, Canoe has fallen short of expectations and is now nearing failure, according to the New York Post.

So far, Canoe—which is financially backed by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, and Bright House—has failed in its efforts to increase ad revenue for the cable consortium. Its first initiative, allowing advertisers to send specific ads to groups of cable customers based on their geography, was abandoned because it was technically unfeasible, says the Post.

Other initiatives have been more successful, such as improving ad insertion within on-demand shows and launching interactive products in customers’ homes to allow for things like polling. But after three years, few viewers have actually seen an interactive ad, says the Post, and Canoe’s pinpointed ad sales haven’t gained traction. Despite initial interest, ad agencies never picked up on Canoe.

Recently, Canoe lost several of its key executives, including CEO David Verklin, as well as one of its biggest supporters, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. The former Comcast CEO is too busy with his new job to give his attention to Canoe, says the Post, giving the company’s leadership “a sense of deflation.”

“Everyone was surprised that David wasn’t re-upped,” a source said of Verklin, while Mitch Oscar, evp of televisual applications at MPG, told the Post, “Warren Schlichting was a longtime Comcast employee [before joining Canoe]. With him leaving, one wonders what the dedication is.”

After this story was aggregated by Adweek.com, Canoe Ventures took issue with how the Post story was reported and, in a statement issued by a company spokesman, said that to date “industry collaboration through Canoe has resulted in a growing national ITV platform that now includes more than 20 million advanced-use digital cable households. This represents 20 percent of the total U.S. multichannel market and 46 percent of all digital cable households in the nation, including 21 of the top 25 DMAs. Additionally, Canoe has enabled seven diverse networks with ITV capabilities, including AMC, Style, E!, Bravo, Discovery, History, and USA. Canoe is poised to launch national dynamic ad insertion for On Demand which will help the industry to appropriately monetize the Free On Demand (FOD) programming offered via this important and highly used platform.”