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Data Gives Stations Timely Fix on Programming, Promotion

Why This Matters: If better data means more viewership, the result could be higher ad revenues.

More data can mean more ratings for local stations. Sorenson Media, which gathers data from smart TVs, works with about 120 local stations. It can update viewer information on an hourly basis to stations that are used to getting information on an overnight basis at best and quarterly at worst.

For one station in the small market of Harlingen, Texas, getting timely data meant a big boost in morning news ratings.

Sorenson’s Station Analytics suite provides data on news and other programming, promotional activity and on advertising. The data includes demographic information about who is watching and geographic information on which parts of the market are tuning in.

The suite also includes competitive broadcast station and cable network data. It can tell station executives when viewers tune in and tune out, what they were watching and what channel they switched to.

“When they get their hot little hands on hourly data, they start to realize they can make some really smart business decisions about their news, their programming and even their advertising and promotional content,” Roxanne Geyer, director of customer success at Sorenson, said.

One Sorenson client is KGBT, the CBS affiliate in Harlingen. The station’s news director, Zoltan Csanyi-Salcedo, noticed a drop in viewership during its morning news. The minute-by-minute data pinpointed the problem as being between 5:50 and 6 a.m.

The Language of Ratings

Csanyi-Salcedo looked at audience flow data and a video playback and saw that as a commercial break approached, the anchors’ body language seemed to signal the end of the program. The anchors were instructed to change their behavior and the commercial break was moved. With the Sorenson product, the station was quickly able to see an improvement in viewership pattern as a result.

“To be able to see the data just a couple hours after the show is another level,”Csanyi-Salcedo said. “It allows you to make any corrections or adjustments quickly.”

Viewership in the five weeks following the change last November was up 14% compared to the five weeks before the change was made.

The Sorenson analytic suite can also be used to analyze a station’s promotional activity. It can measure which promos are most effective by tracking whether viewers who see them tune into the show being mentioned.

In the works is a tool that will tell the station and its clients which ads are working and how to reach the audiences most likely to buy a particular product or service.

Also in testing mode is an ad suite that will enable the station to dynamically switch the ads being seen on individual connected TV sets. That means clients will be able to advertise, for example, men’s razors in male households and women’s razors in female homes.