Measuring the success of streaming video content has been challenging, but startup Parrot Analytics said it has created a solid metric — which it dubs Demand Expressions (DEx) — that not only counts viewers but also their levels of enthusiasm. From that data, the company said it can also extract information to accurately determine how many subscribers the show will attract. Chief executive Wared Seger noted the challenge of creating a “new standard” that will measure across “different shows, on different platforms, at different times.”
The New York Times reports that Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions are made up of “signals” that factor in “Google search terms for a series or film, as well as Facebook likes, pirated downloads and Wikipedia traffic to determine its popularity.”
In this way, Parrot revealed that Netflix’s “The Witcher,” released in December, “generated 57 times the average demand for all shows measured … from January to April, making it one of Netflix’s biggest hits.” Netflix confirmed Parrot’s assessment, saying “The Witcher” was its “biggest Season 1 TV series ever.”
Netflix and similar streaming services including Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max depend on adding subscribers for revenue. In that paradigm, “a streaming show’s success depends less on how many people are watching than on how many subscribers it can deliver.” That’s the sweet spot that Parrot aims to measure — “the ability of a show or film to grab a viewer’s attention” — and why it “rates shows in relation to overall demand, rather than use an absolute figure like a ratings point.”
Seger reported that he began the company by analyzing Netflix and Hulu and finding “a close correlation between ‘Demand Expressions’ and the number of new subscribers.” Parrot since “captured subscriber growth within 3 percent of the actual total” for Netflix and within 1 percent for Hulu.
“When the two happen with high correlation, we get to uncover possible hidden acquisition and retention mechanisms that are useful to make investment and business decisions,” said Seger. He explained that, while “new shows bring in new customers; old shows, with their potential for comfort viewing, keep subscribers from leaving.”
Parrot Analytics also stated that it provides metrics to “quantify a show’s ‘rate of decay’, or shelf life, as well as its ‘travelability’, its potential appeal in various regions.” Currently, Parrot sells licenses for $59 per month, “a price designed to appeal to individual producers and creators.” Parrot, which raised $15 million from investors, stated that current clients include Amazon, WarnerMedia, Google, Disney and CAA (but not Netflix).
The company is poised to take advantage of the “information gap” for streaming services. Netflix gives “viewership figures after the first seven days and once again after 28 days,” although “producers who come out of the traditional TV and movie business are accustomed to hour-to-hour ratings data and daily box office counts.” Nielsen only offers “high-priced subscriptions” for big companies.