Hollywood Meets Data

New synergies between entertainment and technology point to a future where the consumer’s voice has a significant role in the content of TV programs.

Hollywood Meets Data

TV viewing is no longer a spectator sport.

According to the Nielsen Total Audience Report, released in September, the typical American spent four hours and 11 minutes in front of a TV screen each day. But TV viewing is no longer the passive activity it was 10 years ago. Today, thanks to current technology, we can interact with shows and their creators via social channels in ways we previously couldn’t have imagined.

Consider this: According to Nielsen, the “majority of U.S. households now own high-definition televisions, Internet-connected computers and smartphones, and they spend an average of 60 hours a week consuming content across multiple screens.” Also, “almost two-thirds (64%) of overall social media users say they use social media sites at least once a day via their computer, and almost half (47%) of smartphone owners visit social networks every day.”

Consumers’ rapid adoption of mobile devices and social media is changing the way they interact with their favorite brands, products, and even TV shows. Consumers are empowered with a direct point of contact to the brands they use, the content they access, and the shows they watch.

Finding Meaning Through Data

Analyzing that point of contact—or engagement—is now possible with the rise of data analytics services from Facebook and others that enable TV creators to get a glimpse into viewers’ likes and dislikes. Show producers can then translate that knowledge into more effective communication with viewers via social channels. In fact, some of the shows you know and love—from House of Cards to Game of Thrones—probably leveraged social analytics to make their content more engaging, improve audience interactions, and win you over.

A number of TV channels now use Facebook topic data to gain a more in-depth understanding of how their audience engages with episodes, storylines, and characters. Facebook topic data shows marketers what people are engaging and sharing around specific activities, events, brand names, and other subjects, all in a way that honors consumer privacy through insights that are aggregated and made anonymous.

Marketers use the information from Facebook topic data to make better decisions about how they market on Facebook and other channels. Marketers—be they from retail outlets, TV channels, or anywhere in between—can use the insights gained from Facebook topic data to reach key audiences in new and highly relevant, well-received ways. In the case of TV, this means improving the interplay between social channel interaction and tune-in information. Insights derived from social data can have an immediate and high impact on TV shows’ success.

Find Which Shows Drive The Most Engagement

Let’s take a look at Facebook topic data in action. TV channel and show producers—using Facebook topic data—can get real-time feedback on their programming and promotional efforts. A TV channel can use this data to improve the way that it reaches its target audience, as well as analyze the correlation between engagement on Facebook and tune-in information on television.

For example, a TV channel can create an index of Facebook engagements with all of its programming and supporting marketing assets during a defined period. Millions of interactions can be captured, including references to specific characters and celebrities. Producers can then identify the shows, themes, and content with the most Facebook engagement. These engagement analytics can then be broken down by gender, age, and state. This amazingly detailed level of analysis empowers the producers to see what resonates best with slices of viewers, so they can tailor marketing efforts for shows to appeal to the most engaged demographic groups.

Know The “Lows” To Drive More Advocacy

While social tools such as Facebook topic data can provide insights into positive feedback and engagement, networks want to know not just the good but the bad and the ugly as well—in other words, the shows that had the least Facebook engagement. Channels and networks can use social to look at Facebook engagement relative to the size of the entire viewing audience. This is an important insight when trying to understand whether your viewers are promoting your show for you or not. If there is a discrepancy between your viewership and social engagement, this is a lost opportunity to have your viewers advocate for their favorite shows and promote it by “sharing the love.”

Networks and show producers can drive audiences from social networks to TV and vice versa. For instance, channels can adjust the content of their shows in response to social feedback, tweaking a character or storyline to go in a specific direction. Or producers can throw in a cliffhanger, adjusted in response to chatter on social channels. On the flip side, these insights can prove invaluable as a way to change the way channels promote calls to action to clinch more interaction and sharing.

Understand When Your Viewers Are Active On Social

There’s a third way channels should leverage social insights: Know when your viewers engage. Social analysis can uncover surprises that run counter to traditional thinking, and TV channels should not assume they already know their viewers’ social habits.

For instance, given the real-time nature of mobile-enabled social apps, it stands to reason that many TV viewers would interact in real time with their favorite shows. In fact, some TV channels have discovered that is not always the case. Viewers watch programs intently until commercial breaks, then share their views in batches at the beginning of commercial breaks. This type of time-based knowledge can help channels promote hashtags and other marketing content when all eyes are on the social feeds so viewers get the content they love, when they want it.

The new synergies we are seeing between entertainment and technology point to a future where the consumer’s voice has a significant role in the content of TV programs. Rather than being passive receptors to static content, the TV industry is welcoming the voice of their viewers into the fray with open arms. While I’ve discussed some of the new ways TV producers are leveraging social data already, millions of doors still haven’t been opened. What, for example, could feedback from aggregated and anonymous data insights do for live television? The opportunities for creativity in data and entertainment are limitless.

So go ahead, join the conversations online if you haven’t already, and take part in the new era of viewer-directed TV. Tell the TV gurus what you want to see more or less of—and stay tuned for a wild ride of plot, character, and storyline twists.