Watching you watch the Oscars awards golden nuggets of insight

While you’re enjoying the glitz and glamour of the Oscars – celebrating the success of Leonardo DiCaprio finally getting his hands on the golden prize, evaluating the hots and nots from the red carpet, and being left speechless at the ability for a little island down under to take out six of the coveted golden statuettes (way to go Mad Max 😉 ) – have you ever stopped to think about who’s watching you watch?  Who’s paying attention to what you tweet and post?  Who’s more interested in what YOU think than what the academy thinks?

I have – because the people watching me have the power to serve up the movies and television programs that I want to see, when I want to see them, on a medium that is convenient for me.  And you.

Over the past decade, cable television has seen significant growth and unprecedented creativity in the creation of high-quality content.  But like most industries, it is being disrupted by the next generation of millennials that have a clear perspective of how- and when- they want to consume content.  Linear television will only work to serve a declining percentage of the population – the next generation are driving strong demand for the ability to binge-watch their favourite programs, and TV and movie corporations like AMC Networks are paying close attention to make sure everyone’s needs are being met.

One of the largest cable television providers in the US, AMC Networks is most famous for producing critically acclaimed shows such as Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Walking Dead.  As successful as they are today, they know their future success depends on their ability to understand customer behaviour in a multi-channel world.

Vitaly Tsivin, SVP Business Intelligence at AMC Networks, advises that “Relying on traditional ratings data and third-party analytics providers is going to be a losing strategy:  you need to take ownership of your data, and  use it to get a richer picture of who your viewers are, what they want, and how you can keep their attention in an increasingly crowded entertainment marketplace.

Today, AMC Networks leverage the power of IBM Analytics to uncover new insights into audience preferences and viewing patterns, helping to make smarter scheduling and data-driving marketing decisions.

Tapping into the billions of rows of data availabile from industry data providers and retail partners such as Nielsen, comScore, iTunes, Amazon and Netflix to name a few, can be an extremely daunting and difficult task.  The challenge is that you can’t rely on high-level summaries – you need to be able to analyse both structured and unstructured data, minute-by-minute, viewer-by-viewer, in order to know who’s watching and why.  Speed to insight is key – with decisions being made about which ads to run the following day critical to executing a successful marketing campaign.

Analysis that is used to take weeks now generates results in seconds – and because TV changes from day to day, rapid decision-making is vital.  In one case, a single day of analysis enabled us to design a campaign that increased the consumption of our video on demand service.  That’s the power of IBM analytics.

AMC Networks

By combining ratings data with viewer information from a wide range of digital channels, feeding it into a powerful and comprehensive big data and analytics engine to make it available for a range of descriptive and predictive analytical techniques, AMC can predict which shows will be successful, when they should be scheduled, what promotions should be created, and who they should market them to – helping to win new audiences in an increasingly competitive market.  This not only provides a compelling reason for viewers to sign up and stay loyal, it also provides a more attractive proposition to advertisers in being able to more effectively target key segments of the market.

From an execution perspective, AMC made a key decision early on to bring their data-based competitive advantage in-house – a decision many other organisations are facing today.  Tsivin shared this was based on the fact that “Bringing analytics in-house will provide major ongoing cost-savings.  Instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to external vendors when we need some analysis done, we can do it ourselves – more quickly, more accurately, and much more cost-effectively... As more sources of potential insight become available and analytics becomes more strategic to the business, an in-house approach is really the only viable way forward for any network that truly wants to gain competitive advantage from its data.

Has your organisation outsourced their most valuable competitive asset?

Regular readers of my blog know how much I value organisations that look to data and analytics to serve me better and save me time – one of the scarce resources I can’t get enough of.  I only wish Australian network providers would learn from what AMC has achieved in serving their customers better so we get less Star Wars reruns and more of the Oscar-winning movies I actually want to watch!  Because let’s be honest, almost every household probably has access to the complete boxed set of Star Wars episodes to watch on demand anyway 🙂