Advanced Television

Research: How to measure SVoD success

July 10, 2024

By Colin Mann

Research by academics at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) has sought to establish how it is possible to tell whether streamed films or series work, suggesting that quantitative information should be enriched with other dimensions of consumption.

Noting that advertising investment within the television streaming market is forecast to grow from the more than $29 billion (€26.8bn) expected in 2024 to almost $41 billion in 2027, the researchers suggest it is increasingly necessary to standardise how audiences are measured, allowing the connection between content and users to be objectified and quantified and argue that a uniform concept of success for SVoD platforms is not viable, and cannot be applied across the board to all services that operate using this model.

The article begins by stating that, up to now, most of the consolidated platforms in Spain are reluctant to be transparent regarding data on the consumption habits of their users. One of the main reasons given is that “their business model is not based on the sale of advertising space”. They consider, therefore, that their audiences should not be audited in the same way as conventional television.

The UOC research reveals a clear division when it comes to evaluating the success of streaming content. On the one hand, there are companies specialising in media research, which focus on sample data, obtained from a representative panel of individuals, as a way to achieve homogeneous, stable and transparent measurement. This is the method used by media research companies, for instance Nielsen, to assess audiences. On the other hand, streaming platforms prefer platform data, because they allow them to predict user preferences and explain correlations between content and viewing habits, based on the entire digital footprint of users connected to one of these platforms, as in the case of Netflix.

According  to  the researchers, each of these models has advantages and disadvantages. Sample data are based on a representative panel of individuals, which gives them the advantage of reducing market uncertainty. However, they do not reflect all the consumption taking place in SVoD ecosystems. Platform data are a form of big data, generated by users’ digital footprints in an online service. Their greatest value is in their granularity, the level of detail and precision with which user consumption data are compiled and analysed, which allows us to learn from the combination of data. Their greatest limitation is the biased use that can be made of them, especially if the data is not debugged initially.

The researchers say that SVoD companies continue to cling to a quantitative view of success, expressing it through standard indicators such as the number of viewers, views or hours accumulated, although qualitative markers also proliferate, such as engagement reflected in social media. However, the study by the GAME group researchers has confirmed, through interviews with different players in the sector, that other dimensions of what is considered success need to be taken into account: a consumption dimension, related to each user’s contact with the content; a financial dimension, which reflects the return on investment; a temporal dimension, connected with the time frame that limits the commercial success of the content; and a market dimension, linked to the content’s position in relation to other competing content. success

According to the research, these dimensions are the key to avoiding all the points of friction that prevent a standardised approach to what is considered successful in SVoD content. Although this means losing the more complete, dynamic and fluid vision of assessment offered by platform data, it can be made more flexible through relevant indicators related to the dimensions mentioned above.

These indicators are: the intensity, recurrence of viewing and content completion rate (indicators directly related to customer loyalty); popularity, understood as the ability to generate a very enthusiastic collective response from a large number of users (an indicator closely related to business objectives, i.e., attracting and retaining customers); engagement, an indicator that reflects the link between user and content, whose main manifestations are publicity (media coverage and public attention that the content receives), fandom (a community of enthusiastic followers that forms around that specific content) and social resonance (the impact and relevance that said content has in public discourse and in society in general).

In conclusion, they say the latter is essential for building loyalty and extending the reach of the content, and developing the commercial relationship between service and customer (given that the content is part of a strategy for selling and maintaining subscriptions, its indicators of success are the return on investment and customer satisfaction).

Categories: Articles, Broadcast, Consumer Behaviour, Markets, Premium, Research, VOD