Antenna Up: How financial institution knowledge decrypts the success of streamers
9:00 am PDT 3/20/2021
The fledgling analytics company has Hollywood’s ears and anger with an innovative approach to tracking streaming trends – how long “Hamilton” fans stayed after signing up with Disney +.
Last summer, Disney CEO Bob Chapek called the Disney + debut of the filmed version of the Broadway musical Hamilton a “great success”. How successful? Disney, like many of its streaming peers, won’t say it.
Annual analytics startup Antenna, however, came up with a workaround. The company has access to a wealth of consumer purchase data that it uses to find out which movies and TV shows are attracting people to subscribe to streamers. According to Antenna, it can calculate the percentage of new subscribers that stay on a service, a holy grail in determining the long-term value of a project. According to Antenna, Hamilton had more signups on the opening weekend than any other 2020 movie released via streaming, with the exception of HBO Max’s Wonder Woman 1984, and 59 percent of those subscribers were still paying for Disney + three months later.
“Everyone is trying to figure out the future of the film business,” said Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at LightShed Partners who invested in Antenna early on. “I use [Antenna’s data] to understand what the optimal strategy for this industry is. “
Not so long ago, box office results and TV ratings ruled Hollywood with an iron fist, giving suits in their corner offices and creatives in their studio bungalows a clear picture of the city’s winners and losers. However, the rise of streaming has made it difficult to define (and measure) success.
For years, Netflix disclosed next to nothing about the viewership of its original titles, arguing that the number was of little importance to a service designed to attract and retain subscribers rather than selling ads. Entertainment giants who followed Netflix to streaming were equally protected with their data. In response to this opacity, a home industry of third-party data providers like Antenna has emerged, each offering exclusive insights into the largest subscription streaming platforms. Review veteran Nielsen began offering weekly lists of the top streaming titles in September.
Jonathan Carson, co-founder and chairman of Antenna, says the company is responding to the need for new standards as the industry no longer wholesalers through theater or the bundle of cables. “Virtually every other consumer product category has market metrics to help companies understand their market share, different consumer segments, and different behaviors,” says Carson, who sold two previous startups to Nielsen. “Entertainment has never had that before.”
Rather than measuring interest in or viewership of individual shows, Antenna focuses on the relationship between a streamer and their subscribers. It works with budgeting and email apps to pull up anonymous customer transaction data and see when a person signs up for HBO Max, for example, and how long they’re paying for it before canceling. With access to more than 5 million accounts, Antenna can extrapolate trends from these individual transactions – for example, when it was found that signups for NBCUniversals Peacock’s Premium Plus plan rose 9 percentage points in the two weeks following The Office’s debut .
However, there are some limits to antenna data. It doesn’t yet indicate the absolute number of subscribers a streamer will attract on any given day – as it can’t measure all of the ways a person could sign up – but it can use an indexed number that shows relative trends. Co-Founder and CEO Rameez Tase says the goal is to deliver insights that “unlock healthier, more sustainable businesses” as companies move to direct customer relationships with audiences.
The antenna was launched in February 2020 in the midst of Hollywood’s streaming boom. His dates quickly caught the attention of a city eager to proclaim early winners in the streaming wars. Investor Matthew Ball says the company offers “more detail, nuance, and credibility behind the scenes than I’ve seen any other vendor.” He notes, “The most meaningful feedback came from those who were annoyed with Antenna’s accuracy.”
The 15-person company, which raised $ 4.2 million in funding under Raine Ventures’ leadership in December, claims to have around 15 customers (including streamers, distribution platforms, and marketing channels) and an average six-figure contract. UTA became an antenna customer after a high-profile film talent learned a studio wanted to forego an agreed-upon cinema window and release its film on PVOD, a dilemma that has risen in Hollywood over the past year after the pandemic closed theaters across the country. “How do you rate participation in the backend? The antenna provides a potentially powerful element of determining what this would be,” says Joe Kessler, director of data and analytics for the agency, UTA IQ.
Although Antenna started streaming, plans are made to pursue other segments of the subscription ecosystem such as gaming, audio services, and the spa. Says Tase, “We’re really trying to measure the total wallet for consumer subscriptions.”
A version of this story first appeared in the March 18 issue of Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to login.