March 5, 2014

Comcast to acquire video ad platform FreeWheel

Telecom giant Comcast is in negotiations to purchase Free WheelMedia Inc., an online video company, a source close to the deal told TechCrunch

FreeWheel works with traditional and online-only media outlets to deliver ads during web videos. By taking into account factors like a viewer's location and recent viewing history, FreeWheel's software ensures that a company's ads are seen by members of its target audience. The company also recently partnered with comScore to help the research firm track ratings for web content.

The technology acquisition of FreeWheel is a part of a larger effort by Comcast to improve and expand its online video offerings. The cable provider has put in a significant amount of time and effort in creating online video portals and applications that allow its viewers to watch contents on computers and mobile devices. 

Since its founding in 2007, FreeWheel has partnered with a number of major clients including ESPN, FOX and Comcast competitor DirecTV. Despite this conflict, FreeWheel will continue to serve other clients after the merger is completed. The startup will run as a stand-alone unit and its management and employees are expected to stay on on their roles. 

This is not the first time that Comcast has purchased what would be a stand-alone subsidiary. In 2006, Comcast acquired online video distributor thePlatform, which continues to work with several cable providers and television networks. 

News of the FreeWheel deal comes just weeks after Comcast announced its plans to buy Time Warner Cable. Critics of the plan say that it will raise prices and decrease competition.