Data collection plays a central role in the business of television programming.

For starters, take the Nielsen ratings—the seminal audience measurement system. Nielsen tracks more than 40 percent of the world’s viewing habits across hundreds of channels that beam into millions of homes every day. Networks leverage the data collected by Nielsen to guide key marketing and production decisions, from the commercials broadcasted to program schedules, cancellations and more.

The way audiences consume television is currently undergoing a revolution, with viewers taking in shows on laptops and mobile devices—and on-demand via streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. However, don’t think Nielsen is leaving those giant stones unturned; the Wall Street Journal recently broke the news that the company would begin measuring online video service viewership data. This revelation is making major waves in the industry, because up until now, as Forbes notes, Netflix and Amazon have only provided viewership numbers to the studios that license content to the subscription streaming services.

Nielsen’s new streaming data is set to have a profound impact on the programming that streaming service subscribers enjoy. As the Hollywood Reporter states, “The initiative is designed to empower studios with data on how their series are consumed, so the ratings will change the dynamic when streaming rights are shopped and renegotiated (which in turn could impact talent pacts with studios, too).”

Nielsen isn’t the only source of data that the networks and studios turn to when making crucial programming commitments. Social media is another highly valuable source of data for decision-makers in the television industry. A terrific write-up over at Simply Measured on the 2014 “Lost Remote: Inside Social TV” trade show looks at the myriad ways that social data is leveraged in the creative and marketing aspects of television production, from programming to advertising partnerships. Company leaders are making the most of social data to harness intelligence about viewer preferences, likes and dislikes. For example, the SyFy network used Twitter crowd sourcing to land on a name for the Sharknado sequel.

The world of television programming clearly depends a great deal on data collection and data-driven processes. Here at GoSpotCheck, we’re enlivened by the central role that data collection is playing in the television revolution. We can’t wait to see where the streamlining impact of effective data collection takes the industry next.

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