Cracking Audience Engagement with Content Power

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Video is everywhere. You see it in your living room and on your computer at work; there’s video streaming while you’re putting gas in your car, visiting your favorite happy hour spot, and you probably watched a clip on your phone before you went to bed last night.

But with all that video comes a wide range of quality. For example, many believe it is the Golden Age of Television, but there are plenty of shows struggling to attract viewers and build a following. With so many choices, viewers are stretched thin with their time and attention. Both creators and advertisers are eager for content that draws people in and, more importantly, keeps them there. What they want to know is what content is actually engaging the viewer.

So then the question becomes, how do you measure true and meaningful engagement?

Based on how often they’re referenced, it may seem as though the answer is linear ratings. This is the standard metric, or currency, that tracks the viewing of a panel, set top box or a preordained household of TV viewers, then creates a representative number or “rating” to show what people are tuning into and what they’re ignoring. While linear ratings have been valuable for decades, there are some crucial ways in which they miss the total picture of what would be considered engagement.

The first issue is completion rates. For example, if someone starts to watch a show, how much do they have to watch before it counts as a view? A common belief is that it’s the entire thing, but completion rates are shockingly low. According to primetime TiVo data (illustrated below), approximately 3/4 of people, for various reasons, watch less than 80% of any program.


The amount of time that linear ratings count as a view is a low threshold. This means that while broad assumptions can be made about how many people are watching a particular program, ratings do not offer an accurate look at what specific content viewers are really paying attention to and sticking with.

Without more complete or more granular information tied to live viewing, content creators are unable to track when a specific viewer drops off (or returns), and advertisers have a greater struggle figuring out what programs are best for their commercials.

Finally, we live in a world of time-shifted viewing, where watching a TV show at a set time on a set night is no longer a requirement. While linear ratings can track that people recorded and watched programs, there is a wealth of data related to how people watch DVR -- stops, pauses, fast-forwards and rewinds -- which can be invaluable to creators and advertisers.

In other words, when it comes to a satisfactory view of engagement, linear ratings can answer only so much. But there are ways to get a far more robust view of how an audience engages with TV content.


Using TiVo viewership data during the month of May in 2018, and burrowing deeply into how audiences are truly engaging with television content, Transform, Inc. was able to extract multiple insights. These insights can be separated into two categories which we call Drawing Power and Holding Power.

Drawing Power measures how many viewers tuned in, though it goes further by immediately separating the audience into both Live and DVR. This distinction allows us to look at Viewing Urgency. Viewing Urgency simply means that someone who watches a show Live is likely to have a greater urgency and interest in watching it than someone who uses a DVR to watch whenever they have time.


The insights become even more compelling when looking at Holding Power. These metrics allow us to highlight multiple ways in which people watch: How much of a program a viewer completed, the moments during Live viewing when they changed the channel (and for how long), as well as all of their actions during DVR viewing. By tracking Viewing Fragmentation, we can see how many times a live viewer changed the channel or how many times a DVR viewer paused the show.


This, in totality, shows exactly when viewers are most engaged with a TV show, and when their attention begins to wane or disappear. It is what we call Content Power, and it’s the most comprehensive view of how millions of people are tuning in.


As TV continues to thrive, with more and more choices every day, creators and advertisers need new tools to understand how audiences are connecting with content. Content Power gives a holistic view of what is attracting viewers, what is holding their attention and can definitively measure true, meaningful engagement.