Move over, Nielsen: This analytics service is measuring viewer passion

Parrot Analytics wants to find the economic value in your cult favorites.


July 10, 2020

You can count on a few hands the number of people who watched “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” In 2017, the show was the lowest-rated entry from the major broadcast networks. But the show’s stan armies might lead you to believe otherwise.

Trouble is, superfans don’t get a lot of official credit for their excitement. Networks decide which shows live and die based on the number of people tuning in, not how buzzy the show might be. Case in point: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” ended last year.

The startup Parrot Analytics has a rescue plan for neglected cult favorites just like it. Instead of raw viewer counts, Parrot can track viewer passion.

What’s the value of a cult hit?

Measuring total viewers makes a lot of sense when you’re a cable network relying on ads. If a show isn’t pulling in enough fans, the suits are going to cut it loose.

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But if you’re a streaming service, what really counts is how many people you can convert into subscribers.

Parrot Analytics combines data on Google searches, pirated downloads, Facebook likes, and Wikipedia traffic into a measure of enthusiasm it calls “demand expressions.” Then it estimates how many subscribers a given show or movie will bring in.

On Netflix, low-viewer shows can still pay the bills

Parrot is proving that even unpopular shows can be streaming hits. The company has already landed deals with heavyweights like Amazon, CBS, the CW, Google, and Disney.

Fan campaigns to rescue a show from extinction have already started citing Parrot data, too.

That mission is built into the DNA of the company. Parrot CEO Wared Seger told The New York Times that his inspiration for the company was a devastating TV event in his own life: the 2008 cancellation of “Boston Legal.”

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