CBS Turns to AI-Powered Tool for Parsing Viewer Feedback

CBS has partnered with New York startup Canvs to use its AI-powered tool Canvs Surveys that automates the coding of natural language responses. CBS began using it in Q4 2018. The broadcaster has now expanded its use to process natural-language feedback to all its major events, including Super Bowl LIII and the Grammy Awards, as well as its entire slate of programming. CBS chief research/analytics officer Radha Subramanyam said the AI system processes the data far more efficiently than humans.

Variety reports that the CBS Television City Research Center in Las Vegas “currently conducts more than 6,000 individual surveys during its pilot-testing season alone.” “When you are running thousands of surveys, humans can’t get through all of this — you end up doing things like skimming the results,” said Subramanyam. “This saves us a lot of time, and it helps us get better insights.” CBS shares the research with company executives, showrunners and producers.

As to how the research can be used, Subramanyam said that, “for example, if fans of a show express a strong passion around a particular character, creative execs may choose to focus more on that character’s storylines.” The speed of the results also enables CBS to “field more open-ended surveys and also expand the set of questions it includes on each one.”

Canvs Systems works by measuring “consumers’ responses to characters, plotlines and other topics (like related shows), using a standard set of emotional tags such as ‘love’, ‘excited’, ‘bored’, ‘sad’ or ‘anxious’.”

Debuting in 2024, Canvs first focused on “analyzing social-media chatter about TV shows” and developed Canvs Surveys last year, “to let researchers apply emotional-response analytics to their own data sets.” The system now “has a lexicon of more than 1 trillion words, phrases, slang terms and idioms, which it maps to standardized emotion-based categories.”

“We have literally billions of comments that reflect the ways people feel,” said founder/chief executive Jared Feldman.

Subramanyam believes that switching to an AI-based system will create a “more standardized analysis of viewer feedback … [and provide] an opportunity to have a more rigorous way of understanding emotion and language that we didn’t have before.” Canvs clients have included Comcast NBCUniversal, FOX, Turner, Sony Pictures Television and Viacom. The company is also a Facebook media solutions measurement partner; and exclusively provides qualitative insights to Nielsen on its social data.