The NFL has a distinguished history of successful partnerships with upstart media companies. When it became the home of Sunday Night Football in 1987, ESPN’s unprecedented growth accelerated. Then, in 1993, the NFL sold its NFC Sunday afternoon package to Fox, firmly establishing it as the fourth major broadcast network in the U.S. In turn, both deals expanded the NFL’s reach and significantly increased its media rights revenue.
This fall the NFL is working with another new media partner: Twitter. In a $10 million deal, Twitter is live streaming for free 10 Thursday Night Football (TNF) games. It is part of Twitter’s overall strategy of making live events the centerpiece of its platform. For its part, the NFL reportedly passed on higher bidders for the digital TNF package to test new distribution models with a trusted partner.
As humans, we crave contact with one another. From tiny newborn babies who need their mothers, to the elderly who long for their children, throughout all stages of our lives, we reach for each other. It’s always been this way. Technology can’t replace the very thing that makes us human.
Many years ago, I was left to care for my dad, who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. One of the first things I had to do was take away his car, as his driving had become dangerous. This was difficult. My Dad was a “car guy,” and he had taught me everything I know about cars — it was a love we shared together. Taking away his car left him incredibly isolated; he would try to call his friends during the day, only to be confused by answering machines that sounded like humans. Sometimes, Dad would even call companies who sent him bills, claiming he had questions, but really, I think he just wanted to reach out to another person. Again, he was foiled by the machines who told him to press 1 for this, and press 2 for that, always finding ways to keep him from connecting with an actual human.
As a response to this, I started GetHuman, a website that allows customers to call real people at big companies without having to wait on the line or go through a million robots. Today, GetHuman.com receives millions of visitors a month, helping people with customer service issues at places like Verizon and Comcast.
The media landscape has changed tremendously over the past year, and as we look ahead to 2016 a big question is: What is the future of TV? Television has long been the leading medium when it comes to American video consumption, but the landscape is quickly changing. Traditional TV is seeing competition from video streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon, Over-The-Top (OTT) devices such as Chromecast and Roku, and streaming content on a myriad of personal devices.
While big data is a powerful tool, it hasn’t yet unseated TV from its place at the head of the pack. A Nielsen Total Audience Report for Q2 2015 shows that adults 18+ spend more than 32 hours a week watching television, giving TV a 95% share of all video viewing. As for advertising, TV is where we see the majority of spending. It’s a $72 billion-a-year industry in the U.S., compared to $50 billion for digital advertising. However, if TV is going to stay the leader amid this digital disruption, it needs to make some changes – and make them fast.
Not surprisingly, we’re starting to see TV experiment with alternate data collection methods. The traditional means to obtain data about television viewership has long been the Nielsen rating system. That is based on a panel of roughly 25,000 homes in the U.S. and collects data once every minute. However, it really only tells us what is on the TV screen in that home. It doesn’t show if anyone is actually in the room watching the TV, or, if they are in the room, whether they are attentive to the program. Yet Nielsen has long set the standard for telling us what Americans are supposedly watching, which sets the pricing for TV advertising.
Donald Trump’s campaign appears to be a test case in whether this old adage is true or not. His business interests are intricately linked to the Trump brand, which has been taking a hit as a result of his more extreme statements and proposals on the campaign trail.
At least in terms of political support, his comments have appeared only to improve his numbers. He’s dominated the polls since July, and repeated predictions that the latest remark would send his numbers tanking have all been wrong.
But how long can Trump continue to alienate and disparage various groups without harming his own brand and broader business deals?
Making marketing decisions based on an analysis of Big Data can be risky if not done properly, because data seldom reveal the causal links between correlated events. Take the case of one large retailer we studied. The company noticed that customers who purchased perishables also tended to purchase large-screen TVs. Based on this observation, the company made a significant investment in marketing activities directed at increasing purchases of perishables, in the hope that this would trigger more TV purchases. But while they sold more perishables, they didn’t manage to shift any more TVs, and the profits from selling extra perishables weren’t enough to cover the marketing investment.