The Power of Aggregated Data

TiVo's viewership graph for the SuperBowl.

What do people really watch when they watch the SuperBowl? Thanks to the new world of connected entertainment systems, TiVo has a very good idea. By monitoring an anonymous sample of 41,666 households equipped with TiVo DVRs, the company can compile a map of “live and same-day” viewing of content that was watched at “play” speed on the systems. And guess what? People really do like the SuperBowl commercials.

According to the TiVo results, the Dorito’s “Man’s Best Friend” showed the greatest increase compared with the viewing numbers for the adjacent 15 minutes. Even this was well below the numbers for Madonna’s halftime show, and the highest viewership number for the entire program was the desperation “hail mary” pass that ended the game.

The big take-away from this, however, is not about the SuperBowl. It simply demonstrates how granular our data can be now about who watches what. These “temperature” graphs showing what viewers find most interesting is going to help content producers attract sponsors both for in-line commercials and for embedded product placements in the content itself. This data is likely to become the foundation for new funding models that will make it possible to reach specific markets more effectively, which means that individual sponsors can spend more per viewer in a smaller audience, because they will know what that audience is watching and what holds their interest.

For me, the main point is that the future does not belong to the companies that can deliver the stars and blockbuster content. Instead, the winners will be those best equipped to handle Big Data and be able to match viewers with content and sponsors in a tightly-integrated system. The world of video entertainment is indeed changing.