Within the broadcast industry, the only constant is change and, from a technological perspective, the pace of change is increasing at unprecedented rates. For broadcasters, the days of focussing solely on linear television and traditional advertising business models are long gone. Today, the smart money is on over-the-top (OTT) services and especially live streaming, creating the differentiator that provides viewing audiences with the ‘WOW’ factor that they crave. “All the excitement is about cable and streaming,” the chairman of US broadcaster, NBC Entertainment, Robert Greenblatt, said in a recent interview in the New York Times. “We are the forgotten business on some level.”
However, Mr. Greenblatt has good reason for optimism: he is holding onto a trove of in-house statistics he believes are the key to proving to advertisers that broadcasters can make the transition to the streaming universe. Nielsen ratings are down for the networks yet again — 10 percent this season. NBC has responded by learning to make money from viewers who stream its programs — and now itis learning how to put a number on it. The key is gathering statistics from services like NBC.com, the NBC app, video on demand and Hulu to determine how much money its shows are pulling in from streamers.
Take “This Is Us.” According to the network’s data crunchers, NBC has earned around 47 percent of the revenue generated by its 2016 pilot episode from advertising through digital views. Overall, 44 percent of the revenue NBC has earned from “This Is Us” has come through digital viewership.
The new source of revenue is NBC’s attempt to make up for a larger decline in advertising dollars. US television ad sales fell 8 percent in 2017, one of the biggest drops in years, Bloomberg reported. That’s why executives like Mr. Greenblatt need to make the digital business work sooner rather than later. “It’s not insignificant now,” he said to the New YorkTimes, “and I think over time it grows into becoming really significant.”