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Oh My God! What the F*#k! Over The Top: 2016

Our last installment of  “Oh My God! What the F*#k! Over The Top!” was in March of 2015. In our first installment, we covered things like HBO using MLBAM for Now and Rentrak needing more mass acceptance to challenge Nielsen. We discussed Vine, then still a thing people cared about. We discussed meaningful data from platforms like ListenFirst Media and Canvs, both of which have made tremendous strides since last we discussed.

But a lot has changed in this past year. So once more into the breach, dear friends, as we get Over The Traditional way of doing things. OMG! WTF! OTT

Walking the halls of many major media companies these days, the muttering grows louder each day “NFL games on Twitter? NBA on FB, Mr. Robot Premiere on FB LIVE, Snapchat Stories … WTF!” Not exactly the things you thought you’d hear, but it’s true. The television universe is expanding faster than Neil deGrasse Tyson can claim the Media Industry is one giant VR Simulation


And guess what, we’ve gotten Over The Traditional way of doing things extremely quickly. Let’s break it down with some tangible examples:

  • Apple enters the Original Content space with the pick ups of Planet of the Apps, Carpool Karaoke etc..
  • NFL on Twitter
  • NBA on FB
  • USA Network launching the season premiere of Mr. Robot via FB Live…

We’ll use this last example to help paint the picture of WHY these moves are so important.


Mr. Robot Premiere

Fact: MSO/IPTV Delivery/Broadband providers know what you’re watching, and who you are (or at least the household) So, when Mr. Robot Premiered on USA Network, Comcast had a very good idea on exactly how many people were tuned in LIVE that night, and how many subsequent people then caught up on it via DVR/VOD

  • Not just how many people, but they know exactly which households, tied to an email, Social Security #, Home Phone, Credit Card info … They have Personally Identifiable Information


Fact: Facebook knows EXACTLY who tuned into the Mr. Robot Premiere Episode stunt on FB Live. While I was watching, I could see the concurrent “viewers” going up and down for 45 minutes.. 3500, 4000, 6000, 7000, down to 5500 so on and so forth. Over the course of 45 minutes, lets assume that over 250,000 people “sampled” the content. So, a sample size 10x that of Nielsen.

  • FB Knows exactly who those people were, how long they sampled the show, where in the US they were, what music they like, where they go on vacation, what schools they attended, their email, probably phone number etc.. Deep Personally Identifiable Information that goes the next level deeper beyond the MSOs with Psychographic information.

Fact: Nielsen, Sample based insights from 25,000 “HOMES”

Fact: USA Network has the burden of pulling together whatever data and insights it can get from Nielsen, FB and a few other sources. Much of it is samples, demographic insights and anonymized audience segment data. NONE of it has PII.

The very creators of content, which is helping to fuel the “Attention Economy” aren’t even given the courtesy of understanding exactly WHO is enjoying the fruits of their labor.

While on the other hand, Facebook and Comcast know that JESSE REDNISS, 40 year old male that lives in CT, is married and has (according to the pictures he uploads) 4 kids, enjoys wine, drives XYZ vehicles, visits XYZ places in the world, listens to XYZ music via Spotify by authing in with FB Connect…etc.

Seem fair? NO… But it’s the TV Industrial Complex machine at work.And they don’t want USA Network knowing who these people are that watched Mr. Robot

Ok, but what does this have to do with this thing called “OTT.” Well, guess what, it doesn’t mean the same thing it did in the past. Just like the very definition of

Television “the word television comes from Ancient Greek τῆλε (tèle), meaning “far”, and Latin visio, meaning “sight”.”


OTT or “Over The Top” isn’t what you think it is. Your very special MSO broadband providers made sure that if you decide to receive your television network created, MCN, social, indie studio or any type of video content via IP delivery and “Wifi” they still have oversight and insight to what it is and exactly how you get it. Let’s break it down:

The Wikipedia Simple definition: In broadcasting, Over-The-Top content is the delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet without the involvement of a multiple-system operator in the control or distribution of the content.

Well, my MSO provider is “in control” of the distribution of the content because they deliver the Wifi into my home, the last mile to my screens.  Do they have a contractual relationship with Snapchat, Facebook or Netflix? Not necessarily, but they know our browsing habits and literally control the broadband spigot, which quite often gets throttled, choked and dribbles in.

And, do the Traditional Measurement Kings have a monopoly on this market anymore? HELL NO! They are so many years behind, but at least they’re trying…and oh yeah, the ad agencies still trade on their currency: aka GRP

Sure, Nielsen claims it now has its Total Audience Measurement, a metric we discussed at length when it debuted last November. As we said then, “TAM will be able to count views on just about every streaming and mobile device out there: PCs, mobile devices, tablets, VOD and streaming devices like Xbox, Apple TV and Roku. So Nielsen has been listening and has finally made some edits…. But it’s STILL a tiny sampling of actual usage.

That’s not to say they’ve been alone. Rentrak, who we called out for not “hav[ing] the mass or acceptance to provide a satisfactory alternative but the industry is at a point where it needs to find that alternative or risk losing millions of dollars” went out and did something to fix all of that – they joined up with comScore. When they joined up, we noted that they now have “a pretty comprehensive picture of how your audience is consuming your content. Even if Nielsen continues to have the monopoly on next-day viewing numbers, comScore + Rentrak seems poised to own the time-delayed audience data.”

So we have Nielsen finally adding it all up and Rentrak has emerged as a worthy challenger, traditional measurement has gotten better. But is it enough to keep pace with the rate of change for what really matters to brands and marketers in the year we live in? Emotions, Sentiment, Psychographic Insights, Attribution Data… Human Connections.


The traditional players have to deal with the fact that every one of these connections comes with boatloads of data and cross screen insights to help feed the marketers currency. You can see what the emotional breakdown of a piece of video content on Facebook is now simply through indicating a happy or a sad face. Comcast doesn’t know that the video you’re watching is making you sad, but Facebook sure as heck does. And there’s the human layer of reaction attached as well – Facebook knew precisely where in the stream I was when I commented while watching that Mr. Robot live stream. Comcast wishes it knew what I was thinking while I watched later that week. It’s a gluttonous feast of data and we’ve got  room for seconds.

The convergence of screens and data sets is a tangled rats nest worse than Shingy’s hair in a tornado, but the future of TV IS slowly coming into focus, and we’ve accepted that the “traditional” players aren’t the only game in town. Time to embrace the rookies that will literally shape the future of how this Industry grows and thrives.


TV[R]EV is written, curated and incubated by the BRaVe Ventures team. Find TV[R]EV on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date on the TV[R]EVOLUTION.