AMC Networks isn’t satisfied with knowing you like “The Walking Dead,” “Better Call Saul” and “Killing Eve” — they want to know why you like those shows. The owner of AMC, BBC America and streaming service AMC Plus has signed a multiyear deal with entertainment-data-mapping company Katch to get the answer to that question, Variety has learned exclusively.
Katch, which has previously provided data-driven insights to a variety of partners in the world of film, is entering into the television space with its AMC Networks deal. Under the pact, Katch, the creator of the world’s first “human-powered media genome” for the entertainment industry, will offer insights in support of AMC Networks’ linear channels — AMC, BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV and WE tv — and growing portfolio of targeted streaming services — AMC Plus, ALLBLK, Shudder, Acorn TV, Sundance Now and HIDIVE — by mapping audience preferences.
The Katch Genome, designed by former Pandora architect Dr. Nolan Gasser, consists of 2,500 unique elements “that capture every media layer, including cinematography, context, directorial approach, score, and much more.” Throughout the next year, large portions of AMC’s library will be analyzed by hand-classified and trained human content analysts from Katch.
Per AMC Networks and Katch, “By providing a genomic view of AMC Networks’ entire slate of original programming, down to individual network and streaming brands, Katch is able to illuminate the specific attributes that cause viewers to connect with the company’s content. Katch’s genomic approach reveals fundamental insights such as where, and more importantly, why films or TV series resonate with specific audiences (across cities, countries, demographics, behavioral segments, and taste). These accurate, detailed insights are invaluable for any programmer seeking to deliver emotional and resonant promotional messages to current or prospective viewers and subscribers.”
“Genre is just so broad and, especially for AMC, we do a lot of genre-blending, which is one of the key marks on the AMC brand that people have really appreciated,” Melanie Schneider, senior vice president of research at AMC Networks, told Variety. “This gets beyond genre and into what is the distinctiveness in the setting or in the people, in the relationships and the ethics and the storylines… Human behavior makes that a subjective experience. By them going through such a rigorous training program to be able to have people code consistently, it makes it objective.”
“What I thought was really interesting is we looked at two shows: ‘Mad Men,’ which some would say defined what AMC Originals were, and then another show from AMC Plus, ‘Riviera.’ And internally, when we think about these two shows, we actually don’t see them aligning. And we were trying to say, we know there’s a lot of viewers that are watching both, but there’s a lot of viewers that are only watching one of those. And they coded every episode… Through that, we found out, I wouldn’t have thought about the setting, but they’re both rich and provocative settings. That is a theme that is built up from all of the individual traits that go into a rich and provocative setting. The other thing is it’s a dark, yet impassioned emotional landscape. This language is coding. There’s ways for us to make that more verbally pleasing through marketing messages, but now it gives me a way to talk to the ‘Riviera’ viewer and say, ‘Hey, why don’t you try ‘Mad Men?'”
Per Katch, the company seeks to make “genre” obsolete in today’s crowded content market by offering a window into audience taste and the subconscious connections viewers form with film and television IPs.
“When I first started working with with the media genome, I’ve always wondered, ‘Why?’ I’m a film producer, I should love everything in film. But I realized that, despite my greatest efforts, I had a really, really, really, really hard time resonating with ‘Parasite,'” Katch co-founder and CEO Andrew Tight told Variety. “I really appreciated it, but I really had a hard time loving it. Same thing goes for ‘Tiger King.’ You might say, ‘Tiger King’ and ‘Parasite’ have nothing in common. And I would say that I don’t resonate with ‘Tiger King’ and ‘Parasite’ for the same reason, and that’s because I have a really hard time resonating with unlikable, unethical main characters. And those two titles have that variable in common. And once I cracked that, then you start looking at your entire life and all of the things you resonate with and don’t resonate with.
He continued: “And if you can get to that level of granular detail, imagine what you can do with a streaming platform. How can you message this audience? How can you win new subscribers? Because new subscribers are the lifeblood of a platform in this world where there is there’s so much competition. We are in a huge competition for eyeballs with a very limited share of wallet. And so what we’re trying to do is give everyone that ability to compete. Netflix has some of this ability. They have a pretty good understanding of their content. They realistically only understand their content, but they have the ability to know what poster, what message to show one person over another. Katch gives everyone else that level of power. And that’s what we’re partnering with AMC on.”