Forecasting viewership is critical to revenue flow in the world of cable television, but one of the “Big Three” television networks simply didn’t have the analytics tools it needed to do so accurately or efficiently. Research teams at each of the company’s subsidiary cable networks were responsible for producing viewership forecasts to be used by Sales for long-range planning, as well as for budgeting and prediction of ad inventories. But viewership is unpredictable, and condensing all of each channel’s viewership data into actionable analysis was a lengthy process that often depended more on intuition and domain knowledge than hard data.
Seeking a partner who could help them rapidly develop a new analytics platform, the company turned to Stride, attracted by our speciality in Agile methodology and ability to assemble a cross-functional team of product managers, designers, and developers who could progressively identify and deliver business value. “Stride stood out because they put an emphasis on delivery instead of hourly rates,” recalls the Program Manager. “They focused on continuous delivery and rapid prototyping, which is what we really needed.
A cross-functional team of Stride developer consultants, UX specialists, and product management consultants colocated with the internal team to build an analytics platform that produced more accurate viewership forecasts, and did so more quickly and efficiently than ever before. “Stride really stressed the importance of being co-located with us and having everyone in one central place, and I think that paid dividends,” recalls the Program Manager. “It allows for a kind of shared knowledge and encourages cross-team conversations. Everyone had input and a voice. We were learning Agile as we were practicing it.” And guiding them through that practice every step of the way was the Stride team, sharing our knowledge of Agile by literally working side-by-side with the company’s developers to build better software.
One of the most important adjustments we championed while building software with their internal team was a renewed emphasis on a user-centered approach to design. “A lot of people were telling us that we had a mandate to build the product, that we should just build it and stop worrying about what users want. Stride was a huge advocate in our push to develop user empathy.” says the Program Manager. By conducting dozens of user interviews, developers were able to avoid getting locked into one solution, instead accruing a deep backlog of solutions to the wide variety of problems experienced by users with each iteration. As she puts it, “Skepticism of our user-centered approach ended when we started delivering.”
Stride Consulting and the network launched a polished analytics platform with the ability to drill down into granular views, zoom out for holistic views, and
adjust baselines in accordance with new information, making it far easier to
align ad inventory. But perhaps even more importantly, the tool has taken
a cumbersome forecasting process that used to take six weeks and made
it more agile and adaptive, empowering researchers to turn new forecasts
around in just one week.
Throughout the project, from start to finish, Stride leveraged the practice
of rapid visual prototyping to validate features and functionality before
committing to development. This process helped the team launch an
accurate, efficient, and user-friendly platform that gave researchers easily
customizable displays of viewership data within weeks instead of months.
It was a breakthrough piece of software found nowhere else in the
industry — one with the potential to save the company millions in lost