An MBA and undergraduate student team analyzed data from FOX Entertainment to help inform data-driven promotion strategies for marketing their TV shows.

The annual Wharton Analytics Accelerator matches multidisciplinary Wharton students with major companies to take a fresh look at their data and offer new insights.

One of the participating companies in 2021 was FOX Entertainment, an American media company that oversees the FOX broadcast network, FOX Alternative Entertainment, Bento Box Entertainment, and Tubi. A team of 14 MBA and undergraduate students stationed around the globe stepped up to help FOX Entertainment Research build in-house marketing analytics that will help FOX optimize marketing strategy across various platforms used to promote and, ultimately, grow viewership for TV show premieres.

For eight weeks, the team studied data from 73 TV show campaigns with 63 different variables, spanning genre, premiere season, length of advertising, and more.

Gina Bahremand, vice president of audience research at FOX Entertainment, said it was inspiring to see such innovative perspectives on the problems posed. “There are a lot of actionable findings in here, and I’m really excited about that. Insights around NFL lead-ins and paid media will inform both marketing and scheduling strategy for entertainment programming on FOX as early as this Fall (2021).”

Key Takeaways

NFL premieres have a significant impact on other shows.

The team found that FOX’s NFL game premieres outperform non-NFL premieres by almost 100 percent. Not only that, NFL premieres also have a trickle effect for other shows. On average, a show that premieres right after an NFL game sees double the number of viewers of a show that doesn’t. This means that NFL games keep viewers glued to their seats.

‘Drama’ should premiere after an NFL game.

Most FOX shows seem to have a stable “conversion rate” of viewers, meaning that commercials for a new show will convert a certain percentage of viewers to tune into that show’s premiere. The rate remains the same across different categories, even when shows premiere after an NFL game. The exception is the ‘drama’ category, which dipped in premiere viewership without an NFL boost.

Paid media provides the most sure-fire return on investment.

While FOX has multiple channels to advertise on, paid media is still the best way to increase program premiere reach. The team determined that viewers who watch FOX probably already circulate between other FOX “synergy” channels. In order to increase the premiere viewership, FOX should pay for advertising on other networks to attract new viewers.

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

“The Analytics Accelerator was a perfect fit for helping me prepare for my future,” said Zachary Scott March, WG’22, one of the Business Engagement Leads on the team who had no prior analytics experience.

Zachary spent the last decade serving as an Army Officer after he graduated with an engineering degree from the United States Military Academy. He’s currently getting his MBA at Wharton in order to become an Operations Research and Systems Analysis (ORSA) Officer, a position that specializes in using data and analytics to help the Army solve its most challenging problems.

Fellow Business Engagement Lead Sally Hu, GEng’21, has a dual-degree in computer science and accounting but didn’t do any coding herself during the Accelerator. It put her out of her comfort zone in a good way.

“I got exactly what I wanted from the experience,” she said. “I led my team from both a project management perspective as well as a technical one, and got to personally come up with ways to find potential solutions to open-ended questions with limited guidance. I’m hoping to continue down the managerial and sales path as I progress with my technical career.”

Getting Started with Analytics

Zachary shared two pieces of advice for diving into analytics at Wharton:

  1. Get in touch with someone in an analytics club, like the Wharton Analytics Club for MBA students. Talk to anyone in a leadership position and they will be able to point you in the right direction based on your current skillset and career goals.
  2. Apply for the Analytics Accelerator! Taking the Python and R courses offered by Wharton Customer Analytics (WCA) was a big help. These programming languages are used throughout the coursework and are essential for the Accelerator. If you have the opportunity, take Prof. Linda Zhao’s STAT 701: Modern Data Mining. It is an advanced course, but I immediately applied the lessons I took from this course to our FOX project.

— Gloria Yuen and Erin Lomboy

Posted: June 4, 2021

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