Big Data at the Movies: SHOWTIME ANALYTICS

An Interview with:

Joe Spurling, Co-Founder, Director

Richie Power, Co-Founder, Director

Paul Lynch, Co-Founder, CTO

Showtime Analytics is launching this year. Can you tell us what was behind the creation of the company and what role it plays in big data for the cinema industry?

Joe Spurling: Richie, Paul, and I have worked for over 15 years each as management consultants in the areas of analytics, software development, and performance improvement. We have been fortunate to work across a breadth of industries with big brands here in Europe, the U.S., and Canada where we get the opportunity to understand from a data perspective the best practices, emerging trends, and methodologies that work best for clients.

I myself happen to have a family connection in the exhibition industry, whereby my father and grandfather run small independent cinemas in Ireland. In early 2014 at a family gathering, I got asked the typical question of “What exactly is it that you do?” and upon explanation of how data analytics can reduce costs, increase sales, and improve customer experience, it became apparent to me that this was an alien concept to what is, essentially, a data-rich exhibition sector. From there, Showtime Analytics was born with the goal of supporting the sector to unlock value from data.

Can you tell us more about your data-consultancy services and guided-analytics platform for cinemas?

Richie Power: At Showtime we recognize that as a client you will be at a different stage of maturity depending on your company size and exposure to analytics; however, irrespective of your starting point, the analytics market is changing at an enormous pace, and for any company it will be a struggle to keep up with the latest best practice or new innovative products.

It is simply not realistic to expect individuals or teams to have all the requisite skills to build out a high-functioning analytics practice, when these can be used in an on-demand capacity or capability basis.

Showtime Analytics brings in big data external factors; can you tell us what some of them are and why they are so important in a system like yours?

Paul Lynch: There are two important aspects to the question. Firstly, why are external data sources important? Irrespective of the industry we work in, nearly every conversation starts with the perceived client need for big data; more often than not, someone mentions social media as being the “killer requirement,” without really knowing why or what use this information has.

When designing our analytics data model, we looked at a variety of data sources to bring into our structure, ranging from movie-critics’ reviews, release dates, weather patterns, local events calendars, customer demographics, and, of course, social media.

These are all interesting data points in their own right, but ultimately in isolation to each other provide only silos of information as opposed to real insights. To achieve insight from external data sources, we believe that the killer proposition is to link these sources with transaction data from sources like point of sale, ultimately providing the context for insights: impact of campaign X was 10 percent more successful in ticket sales based on the time of day we targeted.

Can the Showtime Analytics services be customized to cater specifically to a range of exhibitors-from single screens to multiplex chains?

Richie Power: To be honest, this has always been a guiding principle for us at Showtime. Our experience of the wider analytics-software market is that it is both exploitative and a class-based system, in the respect that if you are large enough with perceived budget to spend, then the costs gets higher, and if you are a small company, you are limited to what you can do in terms of capability by being priced out of the market. Our solution is what we are calling a mass user-consumption model, whereby you sign up on a per-site basis, which caters to both the small and very large organization.

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