The competition for viewership between the major broadcast networks is fierce. As television audiences start to decline due to the internet, Networks continually shift and move their television shows to fight for the coveted Nielsen rating. The base lineup of the Prime Time schedule is the foundation for the ABC Network Ad Sales organization to sell advertising space against. This lineup is announced collectively for all major broadcast networks (e.g. ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) at the annual upfront events at Ad Week in New York.
In the television industry, an upfront is a gathering at the start of important advertising sales periods, held by television network executives and attended by major advertisers and the media. Each major television network previews its upcoming fall and mid-season television shows for advertisers, the press, and the other networks. The annual upfronts for broadcast television generally occur in mid-May.
Product Road Map
Phase I – Strategy. This first phase was the creation of a strategic planning tool for ABC Network to aid C-Level executives (e.g. Bob Iger et al) in crafting the Prime Time schedule (aka lineup) at the series level. Prime Time is the block of broadcast programming which takes place during the middle of the evening for television between 7 PM to 11 PM. The application called WALLe (Walt’s ABC Lineup Loader for Executives), was the first of its kind enabling users to easily manipulate and create planning schedules with almost zero learning curve. During the development of this system, Bob Iger was busy launching the Shanghai Disney resort so he wasn’t present for all of the planning sessions. One of the key requirements for this system was the ability to collaborate securely without the use of video conference technology since the technology at that time did not provide secure encryption. The ABC Prime Time schedule is the basis and foundation for all ABC Network Advertising Sales and key marketing partnerships; a breach in data security would be financially detrimental to Ad Sales. WALLe is browser agnostic and is built around a secured messaging system that allows any user viewing the website the ability to control and collaborate with other users securely in “real-time”. Click here to see WALLe in use.
Phase II – Operational. The second phase was the development and implementation of an operational planning tool to manage the day-to-day Prime Time schedule at the episodic level. This application was called EVE (Evaluate, Verify & Ensconce) which streamlined and automated the daily operations of programming and production workflows between the Programming department, Studio Production, and Talent Acquisition.
Phase III – Data and Metadata. The last and most important phase was analytics and forecasting. The identification, collection, ingestion, normalization, and consolidation of programming/scheduling data and rich auxiliary metadata such as Nielsen ratings, streaming viewership, content synopses, financial budgets, marketing budgets, genre, producing studio, and associated talent (e.g. writers, directors, producers, actors) to provide near real-time reporting and data visualizations for all departments and personnel to consume for their business needs.
Sample use cases:
- Heat map overlaying a programming schedule illustrating viewership activity by date/time for programming strategists.
- Budget map for financial analysts to understand upcoming quarterly financial demands.
- Key content release schedules for marketing and creative development to understand overall releases to avoid competing conflicts or leverage gaps
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