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Discovery’s ‘all-touchpoints’ audience engagement metrics are a springboard for more advanced measurement work

Discovery at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games
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It is clear that the way people consume content, particularly major sporting events, has evolved significantly in recent years. It has required the audience measurement industry to respond and change how all stakeholders – from media companies to advertisers to ad-tech vendors – can better track and understand viewers. This has certainly proved challenging to the industry and remains a work-in-progress.

Against this backdrop, Discovery decided to bolster traditional measurement methods for the Olympic Winter Games and expand the metrics used for television in what it claimed was a “first-of-its-kind” approach to capture ‘Total Video’.

Vincent David, Eurosport’s Head of International Research, claims the channel group received highly positive feedback on the measurement from other broadcasters, sports rights holders and wider stakeholders, insisting, “There is strong demand for such a solution. Other sports are keen for us to develop and replicate a similar ‘Total Video’ approach for future events. This is something we are continuing to explore.”

While the measurement industry has taken great strides to develop solutions that better reflect modern media consumption, a number of challenges remain on the road to a universally recognised multiplatform audience measurement standard. For example, there are variances market-by-market, some more advanced and mature, and the use of varying established measurement currencies (as the base). Collating multi-market data, as well as formalising a standard currency, remains complex.

As data becomes more multifaceted, there are also cost considerations to collecting and accessing the information. From a technical point of view, work has been required for broadcasters to combine digital streaming and on-demand services with traditional linear TV measurement, including single ID tracking for content.

Since Eurosport is continuing to pivot from almost exclusive linear free and Pay TV carriage to a largely direct-to-consumer digital service, it wants to engage passionate communities of fans on multiple screens.

Discovery’s measurement debuted in PyeongChang (for the Korean games). It attempted to capture video, users and engagement across all platforms – including all of Discovery’s partners, which include Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat as well as broadcasters like TVNorge, Kanal 5 Sweden and TV5 Finland.

The system is not a currency in the ad sales market, but intended as a more accurate way to capture numbers while the traditional ratings agencies get up to speed. Simply looking at linear numbers and overnights is no longer enough. Discovery President JB Perrette has previously called this “a prehistoric way of looking at video consumption”, adding, “We are now at every touch point of where a consumer accesses content, so we had to re-aggregate those.”

Vincent David explains that ‘Total Video’ was based on three new metrics, including the number of videos viewed and the volume of viewing (expressed in hours) across owned and partner platforms, the sum of total users across owned and partner platforms and the number of likes, shares and comments across owned, digital and social media platforms.

The results included registering 352 million unique viewers in Europe. 63% of the continent’s population interacted on Discovery’s own free-to-air, Pay TV and digital platforms and those of its broadcast partners.

“Unquestionably, we were able to provide a much more comprehensive representation of how many people across Europe are interacting with the Olympic Games,” says David. “While TV remained king as the main driver of Olympic Games viewership and hours consumed, integrating digital allowed us to understand broader forms of engagement and the growth of younger audiences.”

It is clearly still a work-in-progress. “It offers a strong springboard to continue to work with partners to advance how we measure audience engagement,” David says. Eurosport’s metrics are also cross-border, as befits the global OTT age.

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