Business challenge

To build schedules that attract bigger audiences, media companies need clear insight into TV viewing trends—no easy task when consumers have more content and more ways to watch it than ever before.

Transformation

RSG Media helped one client build a software defined data warehouse in a private cloud to unlock the power of its subscriber data—delivering new insight into how audiences engage with content.

Results

Next-day

delivery of analytics insights that previously took months to compile

Smarter

scheduling and marketing decisions help boost viewership and ad revenues

Empowers

teams with the big-picture view they need to maximize media assets’ value

Business challenge story

Getting in tune with new market dynamics

The cable television industry is in the midst of massive upheaval—fierce competition from low-cost over-the-top (OTT) services like Netflix, compounded by rapid technical innovation and heightened financial pressures are challenging traditional business models for all industry players.

“Media Mantra and IBM dashDB Local give our client the ability to unlock new insights from massive amounts of media assets.”

—Shiv Sehgal, Solutions Architect, RSG Media

To better compete with these changing dynamics, many providers have had to dramatically re-shape their operating strategy, expanding their range of programming and investing in new broadcast services and technologies.

Shiv Sehgal, Solutions Architect at RSG Media, explains: “To keep subscribers from cutting the cord, cable companies have been working hard to enrich both the variety of content they offer and the ways in which it is delivered. For instance, some have launched their own OTT services, or offer new triple-play packages, combining broadband, television and telephone service, or allow consumers to choose ‘skinny bundles’ of the channels they really want.”

However, as the volume and variety of content, viewing platforms and devices has boomed, so too has the complexity of optimizing scheduling and marketing.

Shiv Sehgal continues: “To remain profitable, providers must make sure their media assets generate the highest possible revenues. To achieve this, they need to serve up the right content to the right audience at the right time and price point. And to do so, they must have a deep understanding of subscribers’ viewing patterns and preferences.

“One of our clients, a North American media and communications giant, was sitting on a gold mine of subscriber data, but they were struggling to make the most of it. They wanted to take data collected from set-top boxes, which tracks TV viewing patterns, and combine it with other data sets, such as TV ratings and subscribers’ financial records. This would help them build a better picture of viewership and buying tendencies.

“The problem was that everything was siloed away in separate databases—one for legacy TV viewing, new TV viewing, on-demand, and so on—and they had to perform cumbersome extract, transform and load [ETL] processes to bring it all together.

“This led to data quality issues, and the ETL process itself was incredibly time-consuming, which meant that it could take weeks or even months to get a true picture of how subscribers were engaging with content. By the time the analyses were ready, it was often too late to make meaningful adjustments to schedules, pricing and marketing campaigns.”

The media company wanted to unify its huge datasets, and analyze them with greater speed and accuracy. Importantly, it needed to ensure that all of the information remained on-premises in order to comply with strict national data-sharing regulations.

Transformation story

Switching on new analytics services

RSG Media knew that its Media Mantra platform offered an ideal solution for its client’s challenges. Media Mantra uses advanced audience signal intelligence (A2SI) to help media companies gain unprecedented insight into how subscribers consume content, advertising, and promotions. The platform is powered by IBM Cloud Data Services solutions, including IBM® dashDB®—a cloud-based data warehouse service that is purpose-built for high performance, advanced analytics at scale.

“This particular client had years of incredibly fine-grained set-top-box data to be analyzed,” recalls Shiv Sehgal. “We knew that IBM dashDB could provide the extreme performance we needed to deliver fast answers to even the most complex queries.”

However, the client’s key requirement to keep its data within national borders meant that RSG Media couldn’t use its standard Media Mantra architecture, fully-managed in the public cloud. Instead, the company made the pioneering move to deploy Media Mantra in a client managed, private cloud configuration offered by IBM dashDB Local.

Shiv Sehgal notes: “This project was the first time that we used dashDB Local, and it couldn’t have gone more smoothly. With dashDB Local we get the same high performance and flexibility that we have always enjoyed in the cloud, with the added bonus of ensuring that our client retains full control over their data and applications within their own data center.”

With help from RSG Media, the company has brought all of its data together under one roof, creating a golden source of data on subscribers and viewership. The company is taking advantage of Media Mantra applications to dig deep into this treasure trove of information, unlocking new insights about its audiences.

Results story

Seeing the big picture

Taking advantage of powerful in-memory columnar processing technology, coupled with in-database analytics, users are able to explore and analyze data faster than ever before. Additionally, there is little tuning involved, as simple to complex queries across large data sets run optimally, out-of the box. The media company is now able to dramatically accelerate time-to-insight with proven technologies that work as promised.

“Whereas in the past it could take months to put together a complete picture of viewing patterns, today our client’s analysts can get the same results in less than a day,” states Shiv Sehgal. “They now have a close to real-time view of how subscribers are watching their programming. And with this insight, they can uncover fast and accurate answers to questions like, ‘Will bundling a certain set of channels have a negative or positive impact on retention among this segment of subscribers?’ or ‘Which genres are most popular with viewers in specific regions?’”

In addition, a faster and more flexible way of managing information helps the company to stay in tune with shifting viewing trends. This helps it shape a more accurate picture of how audiences are engaging with its content.

Shiv Sehgal explains: “Not everyone watches live TV—more and more people are choosing to watch content hours and days later—which means that live viewing figures only tell part of the story. This makes it very important to look at viewing patterns over time and across different platforms when making scheduling and marketing decisions—and having all your data in one place is the first step to achieving this.”

He concludes: “Media Mantra and IBM dashDB Local give our client the ability to unlock new insights from massive amounts of media assets, all while maintaining full ownership over that data. They can see the full picture of how audiences are watching programs, and use that knowledge to create schedules, promotions and programming bundles that maximize viewership and ad revenues.”

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About RSG Media

RSG Media is a global leader in delivering software and services that help the world’s largest and most successful media companies—cable and broadcast, entertainment, sports gaming and publishing firms—maximize revenue across their content, advertising and marketing inventories.

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