While more of an afterthought for us, data is key to our content partners. In the television industry, programming decision are still made largely based on Nielsen ratings. To anyone who loves their television shows, that’s not just concerning, it’s downright scary. In recent years, so much viewing has shifted to the web, but for the most part, Nielsen has not. As a result, ratings are down across the board and continue to sink lower. According to some critics, we’re in the midst of a golden age of television, with new and interesting shows captivating audiences like never before. But one piece of that golden age is the accessibility of all that great content. Viewers can watch what they want, when they want, where they want, rather than making sure that they’re in front of a TV set when a program is scheduled to start. But when a show is watched online, or anywhere other than on a television set, really, Nielsen has no way to capture that.
With so much content and so much viewing moving online, it becomes clear that the picture provided by Nielsen ratings is dangerously incomplete. A show that gets a low rating could actually be one of the most popular shows on TV, penalized only by the fact that viewers may tune in online, or on a different device, rather than at the show’s scheduled time. Think about that… A highly popular show can very easily be canceled all because of where and how its audience is tuning in. Even television industry executives know that this is unsustainable, and frustration with Nielsen has reached new heights, but without a viable alternative, what can be done? For all of its struggles, Nielsen is a well-respected and trusted firm. The internet has completely changed so many industries at an alarming pace, they can be forgiven for not being able to solve a complex set of challenges overnight. Perhaps more importantly, nobody else has stepped in with a better solution. That is at least, until now.
Upon explaining our online media guide, our content partners almost immediately noted that we’re sitting on exactly the type of data that they desperately need, exactly the data that they haven’t been able to get through Nielsen or other research firms. As an online aggregator, simple click tracking would allow us to observe the path that users take to get to content, they observed. When a user registers an account and logs on, we’ve captured their demographic information, perhaps in more detail than Nielsen. We’re also able to tell what type of device they’re using, from smartphones to tablets to PCs and other connected devices like Smart TVs and game consoles. As they navigate through our site to the content that they eventually end up watching, we’re able to tell not only what shows or movies they’ve accessed, but what platform they’ve accessed it through, from YouTube to Netflix, to a TV network’s own website, even online content stores like iTunes and Amazon. This is all extraordinarily valuable information to the networks, studios, and advertisers, and virtually none of it is factored into Nielsen ratings.
Data from Rabbit TV can provide a detailed view into what has otherwise been an analytical black hole for the TV industry. We boast almost 4 million subscribers, who we can track across thousands of content sources on the web. Perhaps more importantly, those subscribers are largely made up of cord-cutters and millennials, two groups whose preference for online viewing has made them particularly opaque to companies like Nielsen, and thus to the networks and advertisers trying to reach them. Our subscriber base is also several times larger than that of Nielsen, giving us an even more accurate look at a segment of the population that has long been under-measured.
Rabbit TV Plus is a great tool for consumers, and a great solution for content providers. But what we’ve also learned is that in addition to all of that, it also has the ability to do exactly what Nielsen has done on TV sets for over 50 years. And while this capability has always been built into the service, it may not have been realized if not for our continued collaboration with our content partners on how we can make the television experience better for everyone: consumers, content providers, advertisers, and more. Great things can happen in media when these three groups come together, and that’s what FreeCast is all about: creating the platform for that to happen.
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