Q&A: Whip Media’s Carol Hanley on the Need for Data in the New Era of Streaming and Content Licensing

Carol Hanley is president of Whip Media, a leading enterprise software platform and data provider to some of the world’s largest entertainment organizations. Hanley joined the company in 2017 as chief revenue officer to lead the company’s business strategy, revenue, sales and marketing. She also oversaw the development of new measurement solutions that combine audience consumption data with financial information to enable smarter TV and film buying and selling decisions in a rapidly evolving entertainment ecosystem. Under her leadership, Whip Media acquired Mediamorph, with a platform that powered more than two-thirds of all global digital transactional revenue for the film and television industries, and the TV & movie metadata platform TVDB. She also scaled Whip Media’s global sales team and expanded customer relationships with global content providers, broadcasters and operators. Prior to joining Whip Media, Hanley served as CRO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group. Before her term at Deluxe, Hanley spent 13 years as the EVP and chief revenue and marketing officer at Nielsen Audio. She also served as SVP and CRO of Arbitron, before Nielsen acquired it, and as a managing partner at Morrison and Abraham.

Ahead of MIPTV next week, Whip Media has launched a global licensing and research platform for film and TV content called the Whip Media Exchange. The Exchange predicts demand across hundreds of thousands of film and TV titles to help customers identify those most likely to work for a specific audience.

Media Play News asked Hanley about how Whip Media is helping its customers tackle this new era of streaming and content licensing, along with what’s ahead for the industry as a whole.

MPN: Tell me about Whip Media. What needs in the entertainment business do you fulfill?

Hanley: Whip Media is a global enterprise software platform and data provider to leading entertainment companies. We provide solutions across licensing, content planning and financial operations to help our customers drive revenue, growth and solve for the challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also play a central role in the content distribution ecosystem, as we manage more than 2 trillion global VOD and EST transactions annually and 20 million avails for major content providers and distributors globally. Our roster of clients consists of more than 50 of the biggest media and entertainment companies, including all major Hollywood studios, top broadcasters, and the largest global MVPD operators in the world.

MPN: Whip Media recently launched a new solution for streaming services to manage performance tracking and revenue for their subscription apps. Tell us about the significance of this.

Hanley: The rapid growth of mainstream and niche subscription streaming apps, whether bundled in a mobile plan, cable TV offering, or available on app stores, has generated billions in revenue and created massive numbers of reports in different formats for the studios and distributors that manage them. Oftentimes teams are manually processing deferred revenue from annual subscriptions or redemptions of vouchers, which is a time-consuming and error-prone process. Whip Media’s solution for subscription streaming apps not only consolidates and centralizes performance data across global platforms, but also automates accounting processes to manage revenue. Whip Media currently manages performance tracking and revenue management for more than 60% of VOD and EST transactions annually for the largest film studios and distributors across 1,100-plus global platforms, so this is a natural extension of our business.

MPN: One of the most visible aspects of Whip Media is your weekly chart tracking the popularity of movies and shows on the various streaming platforms. It’s a crowded field — so why is your data better than the others?

Hanley: Our TV and movie data is successful because it’s different and not available from other sources. It’s global, first-party viewer engagement and audience demand data across all platforms and devices. This is a key differentiating factor. Our data provides a deeper understanding of viewer sentiment and behaviors, as well as the competitive landscape — which complements the viewing data that our customers already have internally. Further, our panel is continuously capturing viewing intent, engagement and affinity data for content across 1,900 platforms in 130-plus countries. This data helps drive marketing, licensing, programming and development decisions for our customers. 

MPN: Whip Media’s data-driven approach to content licensing allows for content predictions — a “demand score.” With streamers increasingly looking to international markets, why is this important?

Hanley: As streaming services are expanding globally and the demand for content increases, companies are struggling to keep up with all of this change and to identify the right licensing opportunities at scale. The Whip Media Exchange, which just launched commercially, is a game-changer when it comes to global content licensing. The backbone of the Demand Score and the Exchange overall is Whip Media’s consumer sentiment and engagement data from 21 million TV and movie fans around the world. This data-driven foundation provides a unique score for each film and TV title on the Exchange — allowing customers to predict how content will perform in a particular territory and on a particular platform.

This is vital. Content buyers and sellers using The Exchange now have the ability to compare the predicted performance of a movie or TV series against hundreds of thousands of new and library titles worldwide. That applies to content rights both listed and not listed on the Exchange. This is a critical new content planning tool that allows Exchange customers to both research and make better-informed content choices for their platforms. How does it do this? By offering key insights on important audience characteristics, including the age and gender of viewers, as well as similar titles that may appeal to their audience. This proprietary and market-leading data helps make it quicker and easier for customers to evaluate what content to buy or sell, and where. A number of major entertainment companies have already seen this, too: Whip Media Exchange customers include Lionsgate, Pluto TV, Globo,  TelevisaUnivision’s ViX, AMC Networks International Latin America, Vodafone Hungry, Tastemade and Keshet International, among many others. 

MPN: You’re in a great position to take a step back and observe industry trends. Give us your prognosis for the streaming market, including the competitive landscape, streaming fatigue and the rise of AVOD.

Hanley: International markets will continue to be the big battleground in the streaming wars. The largest streaming platforms are expanding, and therefore competing for subscribers. Established players that already have large subscription bases will have to look to territories whose economies may need lower price points to acquire subscribers. Also, more consolidation will happen. 

In the U.S., according to our data, consumers subscribe to an average of 4.7 services and plan to add only one more. A large majority (70%) feel that there are too many subscription services on the market and most of them (85%) say it’s getting too expensive to have this many subscriptions. As a result, we are seeing growth for AVOD and FAST services, like Pluto TV.

A.I. and Machine Learning to Boom in Media and Entertainment Industry in 2022

Artificial intelligence and machine learning in the media and entertainment industry will boom in 2022, according to ABI Research’s new white paper 70 Technology Trends That Will—and Will Not—Shape 2022.

In the white paper, ABI Research analysts identified 35 trends that will shape the technology market and 35 others that, although attracting huge amounts of speculation and commentary, are less likely to move the needle over the next 12 months.

The role of A.I. and machine learning will increase significantly in 2022, with revenue forecasted to surpass $9.5 billion in 2022 when video ad tech is included, according to the white paper. Due to competitive pressures from direct-to-consumer services, incumbents (i.e., pay-TV operators, broadcasters) will have to reduce costs, limit churn and extract as much value as possible from existing customers. A.I./M.L.’s role here will increase to better target households with promotions, automate more workflows, and better secure the operators’ content and services, according to ABI.

A.I./M.L. will also play a growing role in the ad tech space to improve personalization and contextually aware advertisements and serve as grounds for differentiation. This is especially critical following changes to third-party tracking devices (i.e., Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) and third-party cookies) and increasing focus on privacy, according ABI. The corollary of these trends is that the ad market will not suffer as severely as some had feared due to the changing privacy landscape.

“The fallout from COVID-19 prevention measures, the process of transitioning from pandemic to endemic disease, and global political tensions weigh heavily on the coming year’s fortunes,” Stuart Carlaw, chief research officer at ABI Research, said in a statement. “This white paper is a tool for our readers to help shape their understanding of the key critical trends that look set to materialize in 2022 as the world begins to emerge from the shadow of COVID-19. It also highlights those much-vaunted trends that are less likely to have meaningful impact in 2022.”

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On the other hand, the metaverse won’t arrive anytime soon, ABI predicts. The metaverse, despite all the headlines and investments, will not arrive in 2022 or within the typical five-year forecast window. “The metaverse is still more of a buzzword and vision than a fully-fledged end goal with a defined date of arrival,” according to ABI. “What we have today is a number of tech companies building their version of a ‘metaverse,’ but this multiverse is not fully interconnected, does not yet widely employ open standards, and certainly has not fully embraced Extended Reality (XR) — all tenets of the metaverse vision (some would also add the crypto economy to the list, which is also not in place).”

It may take the better part of a decade before that “completed” form of the metaverse begins to take shape, ABI predicts. When the metaverse does arrive, it will truly transform the way we live our lives and, in the process, generate tremendous opportunities for a host of technologies, including 5G/6G, edge and cloud compute, XR, and A.I./M.L., according to ABI.

Movies Anywhere Viewers Added More Than 25M Movies to the Service in 2021

For the end of the year, a Movies Anywhere landing page is offering stats on consumer viewing habits in 2021. 

The cloud-based digital locker service tallied 22.6 million hours watched; 157,000 movies shared with the Screen Pass feature; 12.1 million total lists created with the “My Lists” feature (both auto-created plus manually created); 25.2 million movies added to collections (all transactions combined); and 6.7 million deals purchased.

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Among titles, the most watched for the year was The Croods: A New Age, the most purchased was Free Guy; the most redeemed was Wonder Woman 1984; the most wishlisted was Black Widow; the most Screen Pass sent was Trolls, and the most searched was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Movies Anywhere participating studios include Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, 20th Century Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm) and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Participating digital retailers include Apple TV, Prime Video, Vudu, YouTube/Google Play, Verizon, Xfinity, Microsoft Movies & TV and DirecTV.

Comscore Acquires Social Media Analytics Firm Shareablee

Comscore has acquired Shareablee, a marketing analytics and measurement company in the social media space.

With the acquisition, which closed on Dec. 16, Comscore plans to expand its Media Metrix and Video Metrix currencies to include Shareablee’s social media engagement and video insights, which will bridge the industry gap of traditional digital and social measurement services, according to Comscore.

The combined audience insights of Comscore and Shareablee will give media companies, brands and advertisers an unmatched understanding of cross-platform consumer engagement and reach, according to Comscore. Integration plans call for Comscore digital products to benefit from Shareablee data, allowing clients to broaden their digital footprint in products such as Video Metrix with advanced social video insights, and for Shareablee clients to have additional advantages with curated views of Comscore digital data embedded in their Shareablee dashboards, Comscore announced.

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Comscore plans to retain the Shareablee team after closing, with key members of Shareablee management, including Tania Yuki, Greg Dale and Jonathan Lieberman, continuing in leadership roles.

Shareablee, a Meta for Media Measurement Partner, provides analytics and intelligence to many of the world’s largest brands, publishers and agencies including Mondelez, GroupM, ESPN, NBCUniversal and Vox Media. Shareablee has built a proprietary taxonomy of more than 20 million publishers, advertisers and content creators in more than 70 global markets that publish millions of videos, images and articles each day across the major social media platforms, delivering a vast array of performance-based insight that is a natural complement to Comscore’s currency TV, CTV, OTT, movie and digital measurement solutions, according to Comscore.

Comscore and Shareablee have joint clients that will benefit from a true cross-platform view of their marketing reach and effectiveness, according to the research firm.

“Comscore is committed to the future and helping customers have a comprehensive view of the consumer across platforms, while understanding the unique engagement on premium video. The future of measurement would not be complete without including the impressions delivered by the social media platforms,” Bill Livek, CEO and executive vice chair of Comscore, said in a statement. “For marketers, this inclusion into our currencies will present great opportunity to maximize their outcomes on advertising investments. We see many opportunities to help our clients grow their viewing audiences and maximize their impact using social platforms.”

“At our core, we believe that content matters, and that data and insights can make storytelling more impactful. We are thrilled to join forces with Comscore and look forward to finding new ways to jointly drive innovation,” Tania Yuki, CEO and founder of Shareablee, said in a statement. “Our large-scale social measurement capabilities provide critical insight into changing content consumption and consumer behaviors, particularly when it comes to shedding light on Gen Z, and fit perfectly alongside Comscore’s comprehensive cross-platform intelligence. Bringing the resources and measurement sophistication of Comscore to our product development capabilities will be very exciting for the whole market.”

Report: Americans Spend More Time Streaming AVOD Than SVOD

AVOD is winning out over SVOD.

New data from TVision found that time spent on subscription video-on-demand platforms decreased 8.6% from the first quarter (ended March 31) to the third quarter (ended Sept. 30), while time spent on ad-supported VOD increased 9.3% in the same time period.

The report found that while households reduced the number of apps they had in early 2021, going from 7.7 apps in Q4 2020 to 7.2 in Q1 2021, that number has since begun to climb again. In Q3 2021, households had 7.5 apps installed.

This fall, almost 30% of households had 10 or more apps installed on their main connected television, according to the report. As AVODs and online TV grow their content libraries, and consumers become more accustomed to ad-supported VOD and free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST), the research firm expects the total number of apps installed continue to increase.

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TVision monitored TV and connected-TV engagement across more than 5,000 U.S. homes from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2021.

“Questions of whether consumers would embrace ad-supported streaming television largely dissipated as viewers now spend more time with AVOD than SVOD, and [online TV] providers also represent a growing share of streaming viewing time,” read the report.

Notably, TVision claims that Netflix’s streaming viewership time market share fell from 27% in the first half of 2020, to 22% in the first half of 2021. Netflix still dominates household penetration with nearly 67% of all homes through Sept. 30.

Indeed, after Netflix, the top 10 household streaming apps, in order, included YouTube (51% household market share), Hulu (46%), Amazon Prime Video (42%), Disney+ (36%), HBO Max (36%), The Roku Channel (21%), Peacock (20%), Paramount+ (12%) and Tubi (11%).

Despite Netflix household presence, TVision contends that AVOD and online TV are cutting into Netflix’s viewership.

“When YouTube and YouTube TV are combined, we find that Google’s ad supported properties capture greater share of time spent than Netflix,” read the report.

Black Audiences Increasingly Cutting the Cord

Black audiences are increasingly opting to cut the cord, a new Horowitz study finds.

Though black households were shedding cable at a slower rate as compared to the overall market, Horowitz data shows that over the past four years, MVPD penetration among black households has declined from 88% in 2017 to 61% in 2021 — a 25% decrease. Among black consumers who are cord-cutters, half have cut the cord within the past three years.

In 2018, 69% of black households were “content omnivores,” a term Horowitz coined in 2017 to describe households who are the hungriest for content and therefore pay for traditional MVPD services as well as a variety of streaming services to access all the content they want.

In this year’s study, only one in three (33%) black households are content omnivores; almost four in 10 rely on combinations of streaming services, digital antennas, and/or vMVPD services to access TV content (one in four rely only on traditional MVPD services and do not stream at all).

Income and age play important roles in platform choices, according to Horowitz. Black households with lower incomes are less likely to subscribe to traditional MVPDs, and 80% of black cord-cutters believe that they are saving at least a decent amount after having done so. Older black TV content viewers are more likely to subscribe to MVPD services (65% among those 50-plus) and to use antennas (28% among those 50-plus) than younger black TV content viewers (57% and 12% each, respectively).

Despite shedding the MVPD cord, there is still interest in many of the features of the multichannel experience. For example, 64% of black TV content viewers say that they enjoy flipping through channels, and the study finds that black TV content viewers still highly value live television, local broadcast news, national news and sports content — the mainstays of traditional providers.

Culturally relevant content is also in high demand among black audiences, with 60% of black consumers watching content geared to black audiences at least weekly.

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“Horowitz has long asserted that black consumers are some of the best customers for entertainment content and services,” Adriana Waterston, Horowitz’s chief revenue officer and insights and strategy lead, said in a statement. “These audiences should not be taken for granted. Many companies are late to the game, only now focusing on the black audience in the context of BLM and new diversity mandates. To not be viewed as simply pandering, companies who hope to serve the black audience must make meaningful and sustained investments, not just in programming and marketing, but in community outreach and support, in order to earn this valuable audience’s trust.”

NPD Group to Be Acquired by Private Equity Firm

Research provider The NPD Group announced that private equity firm Hellman & Friedman has made a binding offer and entered into an exclusive agreement to acquire the company.

Under the deal, NPD executive chairman Tod Johnson and CEO Karyn Schoenbart will retain a minority stake in the business and continue to serve on the NPD board of directors.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2021, subject to the entry into the definitive sale agreement and satisfaction of its conditions.

“As a leading source of market information and advisory services for general merchandise and foodservice, NPD is committed to helping our clients and the industries we serve achieve data-driven growth for many years to come,” Johnson said in a statement. “H&F shares our focus on long-term growth and has the resources and expertise to not only continue but also accelerate NPD’s momentum and long track record of success. Both Karyn and I are delighted to have the opportunity to partner as minority investors alongside H&F as we work in close collaboration on a long-term strategic plan and transition over time to the next generation of NPD leadership.”    

“In a period of rapid change, NPD has helped guide our clients with omnichannel data, industry expertise, and analytics to help them understand unprecedented market shifts,” Schoenbart said in a statement. “It has been exciting to play an increasingly important role in the strategies of our clients by providing insight into what is happening today and what to anticipate in the future. We expect H&F to continue our tradition of client partnership and innovation with new products, data sources, and next generation platforms to make our information even more comprehensive, accessible, and actionable.”

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“Trusted by more than 2,000 customers in 19 countries, NPD is a market leader in its categories with an outstanding value proposition for customers and retailers. Tod and Karyn have led the company to great heights, and we look forward to working closely with them to build on this strong momentum,” Philip Hammarskjold, executive chairman of H&F, said in a statement.

“Rapidly evolving consumer expectations and the growth of e-commerce are accelerating the pace of change in the retail landscape. In an environment of unknowns, the ability for companies to use omnichannel analytics to measure and improve performance is more important than ever before, and NPD is extremely well positioned to provide these critical insights to its customers and retail partners,” Blake Kleinman, partner at H&F, said in a statement.

Founded in 1966, NPD is the eighth-largest market research company worldwide, with operations in the Americas, Europe and APAC, covering more than 20 industries.

Deloitte Report: 84% of U.S. Consumers Spending More Time With Online, Rather Than In-Person Entertainment

The vast majority of U.S. consumers (84%) are spending more time with online, rather than in-person entertainment, according to Deloitte’s just released Digital Media Trends Fall Pulse Survey.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of U.S. respondents in the survey conducted in August 2021 said they remain concerned about COVID-19 variants, and about half (48%) said they spend more time on online entertainment versus six months ago.

Among other findings in the survey:

  • Both Boomers and Gen X still rank “watching TV shows or movies at home” as their favorite entertainment activity; “playing video games” is still ranked as Gen Z’s preferred form of entertainment.
  • “Churn and return” behavior is most common with younger generations, with almost half of millennials (47%) and 34% of Gen Z canceling and then re-subscribing to the same service later.
  • High cost and completing a TV show they signed up to watch are the top two reasons consumers canceled an SVOD service.
  • 65% of consumers are engaging with at least one social media service several times a day.
  • 65% of respondents are frequent gamers, playing at least once a week; on average, these frequent gamers play for around 12 hours a week.

 

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The survey revealed that consumers are getting better at developing strategies to access online content while keeping their costs low. Among the findings:

  • 84% of respondents now pay for an SVOD service; the average household has four subscriptions — largely unchanged during the past year.
  • The churn rate — the number of people who have cancelled, or both added and cancelled, a paid SVOD service — has remained stable at about 38%, although it varies from service to service.
  • Many streaming video subscribers say they actively manage costs in some way, either by looking for deals or promotions, bundles, using friends’ or family members’ accounts, and other strategies.
  • Led by cost-sensitive and savvy millennials and Gen Zs, 65% of respondents reported using free ad-supported video services.

Whip Media Launches Resource Center

Entertainment software platform and data provider Whip Media has launched the Center of Excellence, a professional services resource center to address new and emerging customer needs to drive efficiencies, automation and integration throughout the entertainment ecosystem.

The Center will be available to Whip Media clients globally and will work collaboratively with customers, strategic partners and advisors to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the market for the company’s clients. The Center “will focus on integrating our customer’s needs and point of view into how we build products and solutions so that we are providing optimal value to them and the industry,” according to the company.

Melissa Kaspers has been appointed to the position of SVP of strategy and operations to lead the Center and oversee its programs around thought leadership, research and development, partnerships, education and best practices.  

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Kaspers is an experienced product executive and audience analytics expert with more than a decade of experience building technology platforms for enterprise and consumer companies, according to the company. In her new role, she will lead the the Center’s efforts to develop more intelligent tools and technology for customers. 

“Whip Media is uniquely positioned at the intersection of the media and entertainment industry, and our strategic client and partner relationships enable great visibility into the challenges faced by our customers and the industry as a whole,” Kaspers said in a statement. “Our Center of Excellence reinforces our commitment to a customer-focused culture that leverages our expertise and innovative ideas along with best practices to provide the most value to our clients.” 

Specifically, the Center’s programs include: 

  • a Customer Advisory Council and User Group, which is a forum composed of Whip Media customers that provides feedback and strategic guidance on market needs and demands with the goal to improve the product development process;
  • Whip Media Labs, a learning center for clients to help drive additional customer value and share best practices;
  • thought leadership from Whip Media executives who through research and events will share their expertise in the areas of audience and content insights, M&E operational processes and content monetization; and
  • the Licensing Lounge, an on-site experience powered by the Whip Media Exchange, the company’s content rights marketplace, that brings licensing experts and data analysts to offer predictive insights and recommendations based on a client’s content strategy.

 

For more information on the Whip Media Center of Excellence, visit https://www.whipmedia.com/coe.