Discovery Communications Embraces Big Data

Discovery Communications is turning to Big Data to better track audience behavior across on-air dayparts and online platforms, partnering with data science firm Civis Analytics.

The two compaies will launch a number of strategic and tactical projects, using Civis's cloud-based Media Optimizer platform, to better inform marketing, media, development and scheduling decisions for all of Discovery’s networks, DCI said.

The programmer, looking to make more data-driven decisions and increase its predictive analytics capabilities, said those projects -- involving predictive targeting, data infrastructure, ratings forecasting and marketing spend optimization -- would enable it to interpret changing viewership patterns more accurately.

The Big Data partnership could potentially help DCI steer an entry into the over-the-top market. Following a 3% slip in Q4 ad revenue, company CEO David Zaslav said the programmer would consider launching its own OTT streaming service in the U.S. and Latin America if operators can't increase their TV Everywhere efforts (DCI already has an OTT service in Europe, where about 250,000 subscribers pay an $8 monthly fee). Meanwhile, Comcast-owned advertising company FreeWheel released figures yesterday (Feb. 24) showing TVE ad viewing soared 591% in Q4 compared with the year-ago quarter.

"[T]his partnership allows us to leverage Civis’ world-class expertise to track the behavior of our superfans across platforms and dayparts, build stronger consumer engagement across our brands and grow Discovery’s expertise in addressability with more precise marketing,” said David Leavy, Discovery Communications's chief communications officer.

Civis, based in Chicago and Washington, D.C., was founded in the spring of 2013 by Dan Wagner, CEO, who had served as the chief analytics officer on the Obama for America 2012 campaign. More than a third of his 54-person data analysis team from the campaign trail works at the company, which now provides cloud-based data analytics software and services to clients that include non-profits, political campaigns, and media, education, consumer package goods, telecom and healthcare firms.

“The dynamics of the industry are undoubtedly changing as more data becomes available and shifts how companies are able to solve their business problems,” said Peter Bouchard, director of media at Civis. “We’re excited to announce this partnership with Discovery and look forward to helping them use data to transform ... how they understand their connection with viewers.”