How Big Data Helps TV Providers Like BBC And HBO Give You The Shows You Want

Hui Zhang, Conviva CEO, explains how data-driven intelligence is being utilised to examine, and learn from, your viewing habits

Traditionally, the path to success within the TV business was fairly straightforward. Consistency has long been the hallmark of linear broadcast TV, and it used to be that providers with great content would enjoy success.

The more engaging content would succeed – as long as it was available – because, from a consumption perspective, there was a level playing field: all consumers used essentially the same device to watch at a consistent level of quality. All content was created equal, and what defined its resonance with consumers was how good it was. TV is no longer so uniform or meritocratic.

Video service

The rapid advance of over-the-top (OTT) has shifted the balance. The complexity of delivering a uniformly excellent video service is now far greater: devices are proliferating, bandwidth variability between providers is legion, and the preference for streaming to larger screens continues to increase. The shared, often unpredictable, pipes of the Internet are creating significant challenges for publishers in delivering the perfect experience. And now, that perfection is vital.

netflix familyConsumers still expect seamless, interruption-free viewing. In today’s era of near-infinite choice, viewers have no qualms about moving on to something new. And this willingness can prove critical to a provider’s bottom line.

The OTT landscape is inconsistent. Today, the path to success is contingent on far more than compelling content. There’s no point in having a blockbuster like Game of Thrones or House of Cards if viewers don’t enjoy a consistently excellent experience.

Vast sums of money are invested in content development – invested for the purpose of delivering profitable revenues. Success now hinges on both great content and a seamless, broadcast-quality streaming experience. For providers whose lifeblood is to acquire, entertain, and retain viewers, failure to deliver on the experience can negate all the good work devoted to building extraordinary content.

Achieving success in today’s increasingly fragmented TV landscape, then, is a complex proposition. There needs to be a concerted shift in how we approach TV, clearly defined by a data-driven approach that can shape and inform the critical business decisions behind developing content and the methods of delivering it. Having a 360 degree view over the entire ecosystem empowers providers to understand the factors that are contributing to their successes, and, equally importantly, it provides a birds-eye view on problems.

Digital media providers are experimenting with a much more innovative approach to content, which has ushered in what many call a Golden Age of TV. Content owners like HBO, which now syndicates its OTT content to other providers, are trailblazing a state of affairs where it will be able to see exactly what people are watching, where, when, on what device and on what service. They can manage their relationships with partners based on real-time, 3rd-party validated, data.

Rather than relying on statistical extrapolation, as has long been the industry standard, providers who are looking to syndicate the experience benefit from vastly enhanced visibility over the entire content ecosystem. This opens up a raft of opportunities for syndication partners – those who deliver great experiences and great content (which equates to success in today’s world) will be rewarded.

By using the data gathered across all syndication partners, providers can pre-emptively make critical business decisions in real time – effectively creating a closed loop. This type of model, facilitated by data-driven intelligence, enables providers to effect control and manage every aspect of their ecosystem.

With the right systems, content providers don’t just count viewers – they derive actionable insights, providing guidance on adjustments, the effectiveness of which can be properly measured. With accurate audience, engagement, and experience, metrics, they can make content decisions based on real audience behaviours, rather than relying on post ex facto statistical extrapolations. They can program to their viewers’ preferences, identify and nurture subscribers trending towards churn, and build industry-leading brands.

In addition, providers can use data to better monetise advertising. Traditional advertising is struggling in a multi-screen, multi-platform world – by thinking smart, providers can identify and sell specific audiences to advertisers, rather than simply relying on the blunt instrument of impressions.

Content is still king, but delivery is queen, and visibility and control need to form a fundamental component of every provider’s strategy. Adopting a data-driven approach empowers providers, enabling them to rapidly adapt to a shifting landscape and level the playing field.

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