How Data Analytics is changing TV

Data analytics is heavily impacting the way we consume TV content. We can see this presently in how TV providers are trying to connect to viewers through the Internet.

The central force driving this change is on-demand entertainment mainly based on viewers’ behavior.

In an excerpt from a Royal Television Society’s event, Mark Connolly  said: “There is no doubt that TV viewing is having to change because of Netflix and Amazon Prime.”

TV had to change in some ways that were necessary so that people will not dump it for Internet content or have to frequently switch from one channel to another.

Most of the changes are direct results of data analytics in Singapore and you can see how below.

1) More Investment in Big Data: TV Channels had to up their Data Analytics Game

Some form of data analytics was not absent on TV but it seems Internet giants have used the same content and have applied deep learning in ways that was not applied in the TV business.

The Broadcasting Audience Research Board, (BARB) has provided official data about TV viewers since 1981 and they are on course to invest millions of pounds to get similar results that the data analytics tools give tech giants like Netflix.

Individual TV channels are not resting on their laurels too. For those who can make use of BARB, it will cost them money to buy into, and they invest within their company too. For example, CNN had invested $20million about 4 years ago, presently they are building on that data analytics investment.

2) Discovery into who is watching what and if content will sell

If you can predict what the audience will like more accurately, you will have higher TV viewership, more money from advertisement, and higher ratings. This is what Netflix does very well because they know how to use the ‘big data’ and now traditional TV is laying their hands BI technology.

A good example of Data Analytics applied in TV is the success of AMC’s TV shows which was largely due to IBM’s Business Intelligence tool. This ability to know what is hot in demand has made TV pause and play – and downloadable content from TV to become relevant.

3) Showing Targeted Adverts to Viewers (AdSmart)

Sky TV had launched AdSmart since 2014 and this allows advertisers to target advertisements to households. The data analytics powered solution saw TV channel switching drop by 33% and it’s given advertisers more control over ads placement. This development and other BI involvement in TV has played its part in the growth in TV advertising in the last 5 years.

4) Using Social Media Analytics to decide what goes live

Data Analytics is Helping TV Channels to determine what contents to promote

Social media indicators are so important for TV nowadays. Advertisers look at these numbers and the TV networks have to get their numbers up. So it makes sense that TV networks are promoting their channels on TV networks and social media. They are using BI tools to determine which content to promote and why.

5) More Personalized Regional Broadcasting

Well, this is not entirely new, but it makes sense from a data analytic standpoint that regional broadcasts need to be divided into finer audience segments.

We saw what AdSmart offers and you cannot just ignore the temptation to predict a likely future where CNN, for example, will have TV programming for each street in a city.

Certainly, with the possibility of faster data transfer, TV networks will be able to access real-time data from multiple channels faster and do so simultaneously.

Ultimately, this data-driven change will further blur the line between mainstream TV and Internet entertainment.

Blanketing the D.C. Area with Snow Coverage

You know it’s a big weather day when the TV telestrators come out early and often. There’s Bob Ryan (or Doug Hill or Sue Palka) with the moving pen, showing viewers which way the animated, four-color bands are gliding over the 3-D topo map, courtesy of Doppler XT.

You know it’s big when you’ve got “team” coverage, multiple live “remotes” of reporters standing on snowy freeway overpasses or near the dune-sized drifts on downtown corners. Or when the school closing information appears at the bottom of the screen for hours, long after anyone would even try to go to school. Or when the same long shot of the snow-obliterated beltway keeps cascading into view.

Weather has always been a big local TV story, but now it’s bigger and more important than ever. It’s more than a story, actually, It’s a stations “brand” – a way for Channel 4 or 5 or 7 or 9 to affix its identity and establish its credibility with viewers. That’s why Ryan, the area’s senior weathercaster, always sits at something called “Stormcenter4, even when it’s 80 degrees in July. Someday, Channel 4 figures, there’s going to be another storm, and you’ll remember who’s got a Stormcenter.

“We don’t want to overplay it but surely we don’t want to underplay it, either, replies Katherine Green, Channel 5’s news director. “We try to warn people and give them every possible alert to impending bad weather. You don’t want to oversell it.”

But usually they do, asserts Herb Brubaker, a former NBC News producer who now trains on-air anchors and reporters. “It’s gotten out of control,” he says. “All you need is one suggestion that it’s going to snow and they crank the machinery up.”

By Brubaker’s reckoning, TV reporters not only just talk about the weather, they actually wind up doing something about it. He says, for example, the frequent shots of people dashing for a loaf of bread at the Giant create further panic. “It all just feeds on itself,” he says.

That wouldn’t be so bad if every storm were as big a blockbuster as yesterday’s, says Brubaker. But most aren’t. And you wouldn’t know it, he says, by watching the TV news.

Bad Weather vs. Bad Reporting

With the hurricane season upon us and square in the midst of a near-nationwide heat wave, this is a good time to critique television news’ weather coverage — and overcoverage.

TV news consultants have a word for it: “anticipointment.” Viewers anticipate something big and are disappointed with the results, as when a local TV station promises accurate weather forecasting with its super-duper Doppler radar but doesn’t deliver consistently and responsibly.

Anticipointment involves more than simply having a storm — such as Tropical Storm Barry this week — that doesn’t live up to professional forecasters’ early predictions. Barry, the second storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, had been heading toward Louisiana, but then veered north toward Florida, dumping heavy rains but never reaching hurricane status.

Instead, anticipointment occurs when newscasters promote the upcoming weather as the Disastrous Event of the Century, and it just isn’t — not because the forecast changed, but because the weather’s severity was hyped in the first place.

In winter, for example, some stations roll out their “team coverage” for any anticipated snowfall. Breathless live reports pepper the evening newscasts. Then barely a flake falls.

Are viewers disappointed? Perhaps not, because they didn’t have to fight rush-hour traffic in heavy snow. But many end up spinning their wheels with needless activity, such as rushing to the supermarket to prepare for a winter Armageddon that never materializes.

Going by the numbers
Why all of the weather hype? Ratings, of course. Weather is the No. 1 local TV news story, and the station that garners viewers for the weather has a good shot at being No. 1 in its market.
But the public relies on radio and television more than any other media for weather news. It should be reported quickly and accurately without exaggeration. The urgent team coverage should be saved for major weather threats — any time of the year.

The effects of TV weather hype on a family’s life can be as great as those of bad weather itself. Jim Parker, former news director of WOI-TV in Des Moines, recalls that when he was a child in Cleveland, there had to be a foot of snow before schools closed and working parents were forced to scramble. Now, he says, even schools in the good old Midwest close for a couple of inches of snow. Part of the reason, he acknowledges, is that officials are more concerned about liability in today’s litigious society. But, he claims, TV meteorologists’ overwrought warnings also influence decisions to close schools and government offices.

The sky is falling — not
And there’s a potential Chicken Little effect: If stations repeatedly beat the drums wildly and nothing much happens, some viewers may become so blasé that they ignore valid warnings about truly dangerous weather conditions. Federal researchers said last month that the number of major hurricanes hitting the East Coast will increase in coming decades. Will viewers who’ve seen the weather hyped again and again pay attention if a real Big One comes?

Today’s hyperactive weather coverage is symptomatic of a general problem in the industry. “Death, destruction, murder and mayhem” are themes permeating local news, and the very consultants who coined the word “anticipointment” are part of the problem. They tell general managers and news directors that’s what the people want to see — even though surveys indicate that local news viewership is declining, and lack of credibility may be a reason.

The “watch us or you will die” mentality is backfiring. Station owners should get back to reliable reporting. It’s responsible journalism — and I’d forecast it’s good business, too.

The Washington Post Magazine

“This is a shooting on the Beltway, people! This is something people care about! Because it could-happen to them! Rush hour traffic! Unsuspecting drivers!”
We’re in a basement TV studio at the University of Maryland. Maury Povich is teaching us how to become TV anchorpeople. In a room down the hall, our other instructor, veteran TV news producer Herb Brubaker, is teaching eight more would-be Brokaws and Rathers the finer points of writing TV news copy. For Jaycee Cooper and the others, this is serious business. They’ve paid $500 each for a day of intensive training from Brubaker and Povich, who used to be an anchorman before he became, well, “Maury!”

Lured by Povich’s star power, my classmates have come from all over-Orlando, Los Angeles, Dallas, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Charleston. Some are kids still in college. Most are TV pros looking to move on or up.
Maury and Herb explain the drill. Everyone gets one rehearsal behind the desk, and then the cameras roll. Herb hands out a three-page script that contains the four packages, or complete voice-and-tape stories, that we’ll be presenting.

“This isn’t acting school,” Brubaker says forcefully. “We’re not Barbie and Ken dolls. We’re journalists.” He certainly knows whereof he speaks; he’s been in the business since the early 1960s, which is when he met and first worked with Povich, who was then a radio reporter.

Over the years, Brubaker has worked as a producer for dozens of anchors and reporters, including the inimitable Irving R., Levine and Jessica Savitch, the late “golden girl” anchor of the 1970s whose personal life was so glamorously tragic that she ‘ became the subject of two posthumous feature films. He now trains amateurs and pros alike through his nonprofit consulting company, the Television News Center, headquartered in Rockville.

“Good journalism sells the news,” he says. “As this business gets more and more competitive, that’s the thing that distinguishes one competitor from another.”

Back to School for TV Journalists

As the TV news business continues to grow, so does demand for better journalists. Stations are meeting that demand by sending their staff to educational seminars and workshops, and by investing in more on-site training.

“People are beginning to awaken to the fact that there is more competition, and that the best way to compete is by doing a better job,” says Herb Brubaker, president of the Television News Center, Rockville, Md.

TNC trains journalists, technicians and directors in their own newsrooms and out in the field. “All of us need training,” Brubaker says. “You can’t rely on smoke and mirrors…what’s needed is more solid reporting.”

Brubaker, who was a producer, writer and assignment manager at NBC News, visits a station and develops a specific training program: “We go into the control room and edit with them. We go out in the field to do stories with them. We sit down with their news directors and general managers.” TNC also sponsors two-day seminars at the University of Maryland on anchoring, writing and reporting.