Preaching to the converted

By Rupert Burnham | November 11, 2016

We’ve mentioned how and why the days of TV ratings companies and their methodologies may soon be numbered.  New ways of gathering and interpreting data on how media content is consumed are needed if we want to know where it’s popular. 

Enter the dragon, or rather the BitTorrent network and the companies accessing it to provide this insight including comparing Netflix titles versus Amazon titles - something that even they can’t do.

We posited that a near future where media owners had the unprecedented ability to know and see their target demographic audience better than ever before was almost here.

So what about a working example to see this in action?  Is it possible to use the information gathered from the BitTorrent network to see if it can support any trends, substantiate any claims, or extrapolate something interesting?

It is a known fact that the take up of religious films by religious factions is a very real factor in where some films are popular.  One only has to think of 2004's wildly successful "Passion of the Christ", a film that has ended up making more than $611 million worldwide (not a bad return for a $30 million budget), and for obvious reasons was wildly popular with many Christians. 

What if it were possible to use information gathered from the BitTorrent network enriched with other data and knowledge to prove this?  Can we somehow determine whether there is a notable increase in the consumption of media in countries that have strong Christian beliefs to confirm this fact?  If we were able to see this, then we would know where to sell and leverage content particular to this demographic.

Well as a matter of fact, it is possible.  As a test case we pulled some data on two recent series, one from Amazon and the other from Netflix, respectively ‘Preacher’ and ‘Better Caul Saul’.

Ostensibly they are of a similar ilk.  The dark humour of ‘Preacher’ has often been compared to that of ‘Better Call Saul’, and in terms of content and tone they are appealing to approximately the same demographic.  The obvious difference between them of course is the religious connotations, overtones and characters of ‘Preacher’.  It’s all in the name as they say.

When data on where consumption of the two shows was pulled and reviewed, as predicted, counties with strong Christian beliefs tended to move up into the Top 20 countries downloading ‘Preacher’, Brazil and Russia being notable examples, although strangely the same is not true of Spain.

Preacher Season 1

Source: Nahuru Ltd - Copyright Nahuru Ltd – All rights reserved
Figures include downloads of each episode and the entire series measured over 5 months

Better Call Saul Season 2

Source: Nahuru Ltd - Copyright Nahuru Ltd – All rights reserved
Figures include downloads of each episode and the entire series measured over 5 months
This is not a perfect result, and a more in depth review would no doubt reveal more detailed information.  This is just a simple example to show what can be done when data from the BitTorrent network is combined with a known trend, and fact.  In this case it was the popularity of religious films with religious factions, and knowledge of which countries have strong Christian beliefs. 

So on a basic level there’s tangible data to back up a known theory and fact, and we can already accurately predict where a title or series will be popular.  If any of the countries listed in the top 20 for downloading or streaming ‘Preacher’ didn’t have distribution deals in place, they’re the first places to go to make a sale.  Netflix operates in a reverse if similar fashion, actively purchasing the rights to shows that it knows are already popular, thereby capitalising on an already proven demand.

Let’s take this train of thought a step further though.  Imagine if you were looking for money to fund production through pre-sales, or if you had new content that had yet to see the light of day in terms of distribution.  If you knew in exactly which territories it would be popular, then you’d have the inside track into being able to negotiate higher prices in the sale of this content up front.  After all, if knowledge gleaned from the BitTorrent network is good enough for Netflix to use to work out what content they should buy, then by reverse the same information can be used to work out what content can be sold where for a premium price.

With this in mind, just think of what other ideas could be proved and monetised.  For those listening, that noise that you can hear is opportunity knocking. 

“Here endeth the lesson.”

Tags: better call saul preacher