Note: The data visualizations in this article are contributions from our friends at Sweetspot Intelligence.
Television networks like ABC, MTV, and Bravo earn money when their viewers see ads while tuning in to shows. Whether that’s on OnDemand, in an app, or through the web, networks need to make viewers watch as much TV as possible if they want to monetize their ad space. To develop strategies to do this, however, they shouldn’t study the behavior of all viewers. They should focus on the top 20% of their viewer base.
If we consider the 80/20 rule (otherwise known as the Pareto Principle), 80% of a company’s revenue will be generated by 20% of its customers, and here at MaassMedia, we consider those 20% of customers to be a great segment to research. For broadcast networks and video streaming companies, it’s these 20% of customers (or viewers) who present the best opportunity for learning.
After identifying these viewers and gathering data about how they were acquired, as well as their behavior patterns, you can develop marketing strategies to retain them and make them more valuable (get them to watch additional shows). You can also attract new viewers like them, and put your less-than-best viewers on the path to driving more value.
Identifying frequent viewers, or high-value viewers
To identify these viewers, we suggest starting by looking at your viewer counts for the total number of individual show episodes (1 episode, 2 episodes, 3 episodes…etc.) watched on your network within a specific time frame, or total minutes watched. For the sake of clarity, we’ll use the following definitions:
Episode: A weekly segment of a particular show, i.e. The Simpsons, Season 21, Episode 10, “Once upon a time in Springfield”
Show: A TV Series, such as the Simpsons, or the Sopranos
Potential viewer: Someone who’s seen an ad for your show
Viewer: Someone who watches your show regularly
High-value viewer: An individual belonging to the 20% of viewers that watch the highest number of episodes
A combo chart displaying this information will allow you to quickly identify the threshold of content consumption that defines the top 20% of your viewers.
Once you have that figure, you can segment your data to include information from these viewers only.
The first step to obtaining new, high-value viewers is to identify them and communicate to them in a way that will pique their interests. A few data points about how you found your current high-value viewers will help. You want to know the channel, the context, and the first show/episode they viewed. Did they find out about you through an ad in your app, or through a social media post? Did they see it in a section on suggested viewing while browsing through your site on desktop? If it was through a commercial, and if so, was it funny or dramatic? How long was it? Which episode hooked them in?
Once you know this information, you can communicate similar messages through the same marketing techniques, and push more folks to watch these same shows. Tables can make these pieces of information quick and easy to discern, and with the help of an automated reporting tool you can make sure you always have the most up-to-date data.
Turning Viewers into High-Value Viewers
Once the groundwork has been laid and a potential viewer has become a viewer, there needs to be a path to convert that person into a more valuable viewer. You can do this by getting that person to watch more episodes of the same show, or by getting them to watch more unique shows.
We recommend asking and answering questions that help you learn more about your audiences and the content they consume to provide direction on programming and promotion. Here are a few to get you started:
1. What shows get the most consumption per high-value viewer.
You most likely know your most popular shows in terms of overall views. But if you break out shows that have a high average number of episode views per individual (as opposed to shows which have a large number of views overall) you may find niche shows with a loyal audience to direct new audiences to via UX and marketing.
2. When a high-value viewer watches one show, what else are they likely to watch?
You can design your show recommendations and cross-promotions based on what your most engaged viewers do, and send new viewers down a similar path of engagement. You can design your show recommendations and cross-promotions based on what your most engaged viewers do, and send new viewers down a similar path of engagement.
3. Are there any episodes of shows, or shows in general, that cause your high-value viewers to stop watching?
I can have seven great experiences at a restaurant, but when I have one bad experience I may stop going to the restaurant altogether. Similarly, if killing off a character (say Joffrey in Game of Thrones) causes high-value viewers to lose interest, it’s good to know and develop strategies to lower that impact (said character comes back as a ghost!).
How Much is too Much?
Your most loyal online viewers may have downloaded one or several of your network’s apps, or signed up for an email newsletter about upcoming shows or programs. For example, MLB’s At Bat app now uses lock-screen notifications to tell users about new videos, and then allows them to watch while those videos in lock-screen. While features like these can certainly increase engagement amongst your most active users, you might want to monitor and measure which notifications are most well-received, and how many push notifications are too many.
As you can see from the combo chart above, there’s a margin of diminishing returns.
This blog is part of an in-depth look at broadcast media KPIs and improving viewer engagement from Sweetspot Intelligence. You can find the full article on their website, Sweetspot.com.