Due to technological advances, the broadcasting industry is in the midst of a digital transformation. The factors that caused it, changing consumer behavior, the diversification of communication channels, and new market entrants, have threatened traditional players in their existence. For their fight for survival in this insecure environment, big data offer remedy.
They present predictability and stability and presumably shine the light through an impenetrable world that is taken over by companies that carry technology instead of creativity in their DNA. To defy these tech giants, traditional broadcasting companies do not only develop digital products and new business models that revolve around data but also lean towards big data analytics to see how they can differentiate themselves from their new competitors in terms of content.
With companies like Netflix setting first examples, the implications of data-driven content for creativity have been discussed within the industry. Critics point out the limitations of big data analytics, such as possible biases, and their cultural implications. Laura Bäck, a master student from Erasmus University Rotterdam, therefore took an interest in finding out more about current and future possibilities of data-driven content. With the aim to understand the change of organizational processes within media companies and production processes of creative products, she researched the Dutch broadcasting industry’s application of big data for decision-making about content. For her master thesis of the program ‘Media and Business’, Laura, who worked at data-driven companies like Pinterest before, partnered up with Frank Visser and Media Perspectives who used their wide network to introduce her to the experts in the field. Her research consists of 16 interviews with data professionals, producers, and decision-makers – data that adds up to almost 13 hours of interview recordings.
Her findings draw a detailed picture of current developments and suggest that big data analytics are seen as the solution for the industry’s struggle. But while data analytics are perceived highly beneficial for content, their adoption remains low. The little interference of big data with creative processes as currently prevalent in the market shows the resistance of fundamental change. The main reason for this was detected to be a lack of managerial vision and skill sets to change existing routines and to make data actionable. Overall, the development of a clear direction and strategic approach of traditional players within the broadcasting market is yet to come.