Freesat, a free-to-air satellite TV provider in the UK, has launched a live audience measurement service that provides viewership data in real-time. Using technology from TVbeat, it provides viewer activity data across channels and programs and offers programmers new insights into audience behavior.
For example, the new service provides:
- Flow: Data on viewers who move across channels and VoD services to watch particular programs
- Retention: Data on viewers who return regularly to watch a new TV show
- Time-Shifting: Data on time-shifted viewing beyond the traditional seven-day window
- VOD Impact: Data on the impact of services like iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Netflix, YouTube, etc., on live TV viewing
The company uses an opt-in approach and collects anonymous data from more than 100,000 Freesat set-top boxes across the UK. The data is then processed by TVbeat's platform, which can provide results via an online dashboard within minutes. And of course, the platform can run various aggregated analysis to identify behavioral trends and demographic or regional segmentations.
The unique capability here is that producers of shows can actually react to viewer behavior in real-time. Obviously for a scripted drama, there is no immediate change that can be made. But if there is a watershed moment in a show, where viewers tune out suddenly due to a plot twist, producers can learn from this for future programs.
The real impact comes for studio shows, where producers, moderators and talk show hosts can respond to shifts in audiences by cutting short coverage of a particular topic and switching back to something that was better at retaining audiences. In practice, I question how often this would really be possible -- even live studio shows have a structure that is put in place prior to broadcast. But definitely more detailed insight would be helpful for any process, much less an innately instinctive one such as TV production.
Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) has been known to use viewership data to develop its recommendations and also to drive renewals and cut churn. But the company also uses data to drive its programming development choices, identifying genres and key attributes of shows likely to succeed with its user base -- a function previously associated with highly paid, visionary entertainment executives.
While business terms were not discussed for this service (and being owned by the broadcasters British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) and ITV plc (London: ITV), Freesat may not necessarily be looking at commercial terms), this data could have real value for the industry.
Freesat serves a little under 2 million households in the UK, and is primarily aimed at homes that can't get over-the-air terrestrial broadcasts. But if larger operators were able to offer this across their digital footprint and multiple screens, there may just be some potential here to create a nifty new revenue stream.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation