How Rooster Teeth Employs Data to Make Smart Programming Strategy Decisions

How Rooster Teeth Employs Data to Make Smart Programming Strategy Decisions

We’re looking at how one showrunner in particular helps his company make the best programming decisions possible, so you can hopefully learn something new to apply to your brand, as well! A lot of my day is also being around the content a lot, just from a creative perspective: making sure from a large-scale perspective that, as the people who are really working on the content move forward, they still have broad goals about that content in mind. How do you compare (or not) the insights from content on both YouTube and Rooster Teeth’s own site? Or is this something we should not continue doing?” It’s pretty rare to get something that’s a total hit and through the roof and knocked out of the park. It’s really different based on the show, and it has to be because each individual series is a business in of itself and when we start a new series, it’s basically like we’re being entrepreneurs opening up a storefront in a city called Rooster Teeth and you’re trying to see if it has legs after the first sale season. But every single show is different and each individual programming vertical has individualized sub-verticals that are based on individual goals so as a whole, we have a big thriving service. You mentioned you want to sometimes drive people to your store, or to a different show, for example. Consider our talk show Fan Service, which we did for a couple of seasons on our own app. The community didn’t bat an eye when it was on our app; the show talks about a bunch of shows that are on CrunchyRoll, so it just makes a ton of sense for it to be there. So I think more than anything, we are still making the stuff we want to make, we’re just being more specific about what do we do with that and how we set that up for success, and the data’s informing that.

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As a video showrunner, you have an important job that entails so much more than just greenlighting some types of content and not others. Your decisions directly impact the success of your brand’s programming, growth, and overall audience perception and loyalty. However, no matter how good your programming is, it can always get better with the right insights, and that’s where this article comes in. We’re looking at how one showrunner in particular helps his company make the best programming decisions possible, so you can hopefully learn something new to apply to your brand, as well!

For just over two years, Evan Bregman has worked as the Director of Programming at the Fullscreen-owned digital entertainment company Rooster Teeth. We had a chance to sit down with Bregman at this year’s RTX in Austin, Texas and discuss everything that makes his programming mind tick. Here’s what we covered during our conversation (click to jump to each topic):

Walk me through your typical day at Rooster Teeth…

Pretty much every day is a look in the rearview: how did we do yesterday compared to the same day in the previous week? And sometimes we know exactly why, but a lot of times I will work with my team to figure that out. I have a program analyst on my team as well as just our scheduling manager and we ask, “Why did this happen?” And especially with a new product, we don’t always know the answer quickly, so we may spend a good part of our day tracking it down and then realizing the new app update we released yesterday actually drove a lot of people to watch stuff.

A lot of my day is also being around the content a lot, just from a creative perspective: making sure from a large-scale perspective that, as the people who are really working on the content move forward, they still have broad goals about that content in mind. Along with that, I run the greenlight process, so being able to work with the development team and say, “Here are all the things we want to make and how we need them to perform — what do we have to fill those slots ?” means I drive that into the decision-making process and then tracking that. So my day typically starts at looking back at how did we do at a platform level, but then also what are the individual projects that we are tracking, and then maybe something else tomorrow, and then working on what’s coming next and then obviously looking at a broad scale. Right now our planning is as far out as it has ever been, which I am really proud about, and we are thinking really hard about March of 2019, so when Gen:Lock ends, what do we do after that.

What tools do you use to track and look at your data?

YouTube analytics, of course — you talk to everybody, and that is the gold standard. There’s a lot to say wrong with it, but it is still the gold standard. We use Tubular a lot just to normalize that data as well as to help us navigate the YouTube infrastructure.

How do you compare (or not) the insights from content on both YouTube and Rooster Teeth’s own site?

You definitely have to separate it, but the good news is we have enough history as far as posting content and enough experience just looking at data on each individual platform, we can be pretty predictive of how the two will interact with each other. The nice thing about setting KPIs is (especially if it’s the very first season of a show) you’re kind of taking an educated guess at the way this is going to work out, and then afterward you have to go back and say, “What’s the story that was told? Were we totally right? Did this perform way differently than we expected but still in a way that is really beneficial for us? Or is this something we should not continue doing?”

It’s pretty rare to get something that’s a total hit and through the roof and knocked out of the park. It’s also pretty rare to have something that fell flat on its face and we realized we did terribly on it. More than anything especially on the first season of a show we are going into it and afterward we are going back saying, “Do we see a way forward in this data? Do we know we can improve certain things where we feel we underperformed and the areas we feel we did very well?”

How do you analyze the videos native to the Rooster Teeth site in particular?

That’s all proprietary, built internally using some of the infrastructure that Fullscreen built for their SVOD service as well as things that are tailored to us. We are a pretty unique business for a lot of different reasons but content can be successful for us and some of our series have KPIs that are specifically tied to things like store purchases, so being able to have a full picture of the way that a series causes users to generally behave in a cohort, whether that is they go to the store and buy stuff related to the series, or a different one for that matter — or it makes them sign up to be First members or something else. All that is important for us so there’s no way to do that without us diving in ourselves and creating it.

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