Variety to Publish Weekly TV and Film Fan Engagement Measurement Combining All Major Digital Platforms

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ListenFirst Media Introduces Digital Audience Ratings with 40+ Studios, Networks as Launch Partners

Committed to helping the entertainment industry understand how consumers are engaging with U.S. content, Variety will begin publishing a new measurement of  TV/film-related fan activity across all major digital platforms.

Each week, ListenFirst Media will exclusively provide Variety with its new Digital Audience Ratings (DAR), which quantifies over 1 billion users’ interaction with programming that goes far beyond the Nielsen ratings or box office totals. Here’s the first installment.

DAR is a syndicated rating system for fan engagement with television and film, measuring how titles perform across Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia, by combining them into one easy-to-understand numeric score. More than 40 major studios and TV networks have signed on as launch partners for DAR, including including the CW, AMC Networks, A+E Networks, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Relativity Media.

“We’re always looking for some measurement that our entire industry can hold up as the standard,” said Elias Plishner, executive VP of worldwide digital marketing for Sony Pictures Entertainment. “ListenFirst Media provides that measurement instead of everyone using dozens of different services, which is like talking different languages.”

“For the first time ever, ListenFirst Digital Audience Ratings allow us to quantify cross-platform digital and social engagement that isn’t reliant on time-slots or even if a show is in-season or out-of-season,” said Tom Ziangas, SVP of research at AMC Networks. “It’s about articulating the value of a program and giving us, and our advertisers, the context to compare that program in a consistent and simple way across the television landscape.”

DAR has attracted the participation of so many established media companies because it not only captures that most elusive but important intangible known as “buzz,” but simplifies what can be a fragmented, chaotic dynamic online.

In a world where content is consumed across so many different devices and windows, DAR becomes a powerful tool for gauging the effectiveness of marketing expenditures and media buying without having to cobble together many different measurements from disparate digital channels.

DAR doesn’t just track titles that are new at the box office or on TV, monitoring content that can also be highly engaged as a result of release in other windows such as home video or promotional efforts months or years before coming to market.

For example, DAR can provide a side-by-side comparison of how impactful online a trailer for a movie coming out in 2016 is alongside a movie being released next week.

Variety will publish DAR figures for the 10 TV shows with the most digital engagement every Tuesday (measuring shows from the preceding Monday through Sunday) and for the five films with the most digital engagement every Thursday, which will measure films from the preceding Wednesday through Tuesday.  The methodology behind DAR will be published along with each week’s results.

Since launching in 2012, ListenFirst has been working across the entertainment landscape with dozens of film studios and TV networks. ListenFirst Co-Founders and Co-CEOs, Jason Klein and Christian Anthony built and ran full-service global digital agencies for over a decade, having started Special Ops Media in 2002 (acquired by LBi, now DigitasLBi part of the Publicis Groupe).

“We developed the ListenFirst Digital Audience Ratings in response to requests from networks, studios, and sales teams who are all struggling with the same question: how do I value audience engagement for film and television across digital/social platforms in a digestible and consistent manner? ” said Klein. “The rapid adoption of DAR by the biggest media players has shown that we are solving a universal dilemma faced by everyone from marketing to ad sales to research and media buying.  We’re providing the measurement standard to quantify audience engagement in a way that complements traditional tracking and ratings that don’t take these critical indicators into account.”


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  1. Rena Moretti says:

    How low Variety has fallen…

    Mr. Wallenstein, if you’re looking for a reason why there is no Daily Variety any longer and pies of unclaimed Weeklys littler the mailrooms across Hollywood this is it:

    You just invented a way to measure irrelevance.

    Oh yes, it sounds good in the copy you wrote: Variety once more at the vanguard, going “beyond” mere box-office and ratings (never mind that you’re getting those box-office “estimates” from the distributors and they’re laughably out of touch with market reality).

    Wow! I’d be so impressed if this had any relevance, but does a network get paid because people tweet about a show it airs? No.

    Does a movie gross any more money because of Facebook activity? No again.

    You have just created a metric to measure street-team activity and resulting irrelevance. It won’t even measure word-of-mouth as you’re only measuring an unrepresentative (albeit numerous) sample of the population.

    I’ll remind you that Pretty Little Liars is a supposed “hit” in social media, yet remains mired in anecdotal ratings… And it’s just one example.

    Twitter in particular has been extremely aggressive ordering studies to show its relevance. You made them very happy.

    As for serving the needs of Hollywood for relevant information, well, there’s a reason we won’t see Daily Variety back on newsstands next year as you’ve fallen short once again.

    Sorry to be so negative, but I used ot read Variety cover-to-cover. Now when I chance upon an article like this one, I just shake my head sadly.

    • I think the 40+ participating studios and networks with dedicated staff focused on data like this just might disagree with you that gauging the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns online is irrelevant.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        Thank you for the response, Mr. Wallenstein, but you’re making my point for me.

        Given the ever-worse results the studios and networks are having with their product, it’s pretty clear all those efforts are just mis-allocated monies and time.

        Also, all the networks used to do Las Vegas testing of their new shows, even though they knew it was useless to forecast the future success of those shows. The reason? They needed a battery of ready excuses as to why it wasn’t their fault… I don’t think for a moment those online “gauges” will be as irrelevant.

        All that is, as I said, the reason why Variety is no longer the highly-regarded publication it once were. It’s not failing to get on with the times and having a money-making online presence, it’s that when I read Variety when I was younger, I learned things and I could feel Variety was on the side of the readers. Today, the few articles I see always make me feel I’m being spun.

        Again thanks for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it and I wish I had better hings to say as Variety used to be an important part of my day.

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