SnapStream Blog

TV Trends of Summer!

August 04 2010 by Rachel Abbott

Hey SnapStream Fans,

Since we're always tracking the hottest topics on television, we thought we'd whip up a visual word cloud to represent the sizzling trends of the summer. Taking transcript excerpts from peaking keywords on TV Trends from May to present, we made this beautiful conglomerate of headlining news and pop culture.

Just one of the many cool things you can do with the rich information stored in TV Trends--you know it's open and free for anyone to use, right?

TV Trends of Summer 2010

See the original graph that shows the scope of television media coverage.

 

Is Apple's iPad the supernova of tech-launch publicity?

April 02 2010 by Rachel Abbott

We took it to our TV Trends analytics to investigate the uptick of buzz surrounding the iPad, which hits the market tomorrow. The forecast calls for an explosive spike in the media frenzy as users get their hands on experimenting with the highly anticipated Apple tablet. This Wednesday's episode of Modern Family indicates that it's going to be a full-on mob scene. Brilliant stroke of product placement, I might add.

iPad-Modern-Family.jpg

Let's conduct a side-by-side comparison next to other major tech product launches from recent history to see where the iPad stands. If I've missed any big debuts, you can plug in keywords yourself on the TV Trends database.

Tech Product Launches in Review

April 2, 2010 - Day before the iPad launches. Media index currently at 146.

January 27, 2010 - Coming of the iPad is announced. Media index shoots to 289.

January 5, 2010 - Google's Nexus One Phone premieres. Peak of 180.

October 22, 2009 - Launch party for Windows 7. Interest caps at 155.

November 11, 2008 - Google launches Gmail video chat. Reaching 147.

October 22, 2008 - Google's first Android phone, HTC Dream is released. Index is 77.

Based on our data history, the iPad is positioned to be the overwhelming winner in garnering extensive interest from broadcast media. We will continue to monitor how the world reacts to the iPad post-release.

Click the graph to manipulate the search and view specific channel sources.

Before we started tracking TV trends in October 2008, there are some prime dates from recent memory that would be cool to look at as a frame of reference. These hallmark technology events generate contagious excitement in the media.

July 11, 2008 - Nationwide launch of Apple's iPhone 3G.

November 19, 2007 - Amazon Kindle launches.

June 29, 2007 - iPhone is introduced into the United States.

January 9, 2007 - Apple's first iPhone model is announced.

Digital gravity pulls down DVD sales

March 26 2010 by Rachel Abbott

Global DVD sales are projected to decline by 12% this year, compared to 9% in 2009, according to a recent report from Strategy Analytics in Home Media Magazine. Even with Blu-ray expected to rake in $6.5 billion in worldwide sales, it won’t be enough to sustain or regain the industry’s momentum.

Loving this DVD recliner. Doesn't it look comfy?

No surprise here, with all things digital these days. At SnapStream, we have been early proponents of digital media delivery. The same way iTunes flipped the music industry; DVR and VOD technology are changing the game for Hollywood, which has been slower on the uptake. It’s time to get with the program.

Going digital is right on track with going green; it’s like going paperless. And who has the space for masses of old CDs and DVDs, right? Upload this stuff to your SnapStream archive of however-many-terabytes and eliminate the needless clutter. Reinvent it.

Following this eco trend, every week, I’ll be featuring unique recycled art made out of the nostalgic discs of yesteryear.

If you come up with something cool, send me a pic and I’ll post it! rachel@snapstream.com


Visualizing The State of the Union

January 29 2010 by Mark Brooks

State of the Union Word Cloud

As my team is in the field showing off our ability to search television for mentions of interest, we occasionally field questions about the variety of applications for the data. In general, SnapStream customers are able to search, clip and distribute content of interest from a single user interface. Using closed captioning, SnapStream brings a user directly to any mention of interest within a recorded broadcast. Occasionally, especially in a University or Public Relations setting, the topic turns to statistical analysis. While our solution does not currently offer a statistical engine, the data is easily exported for analysis.

Politics aside, I have downloaded the closed-caption text from Wednesday night's (January 27, 2010) State of the Union. Using the word cloud creator at Wordle.net, I quickly created the above symbolic representation of the speech. The 75-minute speech generated over 7,000 words, of which, the top 200 are represented in the cloud. Wordle.net has the option to remove "common" words – looks to be mostly prepositions, conjunctions and pronouns - to get at the meat of the text . The more appearances a word makes in the text, the larger the word is portrayed in the cloud. The top five words from the speech were People, Americans, Year, Jobs and Work. The overall process took less than 5 minutes - in fact, it took considerably less time than creating this post. ;-)
For customers that are currently using our television search solution, here is a guide to the process. First, locate the video content by searching (or browsing, in this case) within the user interface. If the topic of interest is short, you can use the clipping feature to "trim" down the Closed Caption transcript - when clipping video, SnapStream automatically trims the closed caption transcript as well, so the clip is also searchable. Browse the library for the show or clip, and instead of playing the file, choose "Download Transcript" from the about program page. A dialog will open asking where you want to save the text file of the transcript. The only massaging required is to remove the timestamps, which can be done in any text editor. Copy the text to Wordle.net's create engine and sit back to admire your work.

How did we learn of this capability? Interestingly enough, a customer turned us on to the ability during last years election. Ultimately, the goal was statistical analysis of candidate speeches - the cloud representation was just a by-product. We are never ceased to be amazed at the uses customers find for our products.

Television news in 2009: Twitter, infidelity and more

December 30 2009 by tvsearcheradmin

(First time visitors: Welcome to SnapStream! We make TV search software used by organizations, like the Daily Show, to search inside TV shows. And it's not too expensive, starting at $2,000. Read on or learn more about our products.)

At SnapStream we’ve been hanging onto every word uttered on traditional TV by talking heads and news anchors on major network channels. The data we gathered with SnapStream TV Trends in 2009 gave us an exciting glimpse of the year in television.

In case you're new here, you might be wondering, "What is SnapStream TV Trends?" It's a service we run that lets you see how often words are mentioned, over time, on national TV news. We record and analyze transcripts from national TV news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, MSNBC and CNN and it's all powered by SnapStream's TV search technology.

Here’s a look at some of the trends we saw on TV in 2009:

Top TV News Trends

This probably comes as no surprise to anyone: the death of Michael Jackson was easily the most spiky news of the year. In the month between June 26, the day after the King of Pop died, and July 25, “Michael Jackson” was mentioned more than ten times as often as “Obama” in television news.

Overall, the top ten spiking terms in television this year:

SnapStream TV Trends' top news stories on TV in 2009

See their TV Trends graphs: Iran, Michael Jackson, Swine Flu, North Korea, AIG, Pirates, Hamas, (The) Inauguration, Ted Kennedy, and Balloon (boy).

Twitter: the leading social network... on TV

In 2009, Twitter became a staple of traditional television -- as channel for two way communication, as a source of breaking news, and simply as a source for what people were saying about a particular topic.

Search for “Twitter” in Snapstream TV Trends and you’ll see that news and current events TV programs used the word “Twitter” in their programming three times more often in December 2009 than they did in late 2008 and January 2009.

And how do mentions of Twitter, Facebook and MySpace on traditional television compare? Take a look:

Social netwoks on traditional TV in 2009... twitter wins!

So even though Facebook has scads more users (Wikipedia says it's Facebook's 350M vs. Twitter's 45M), you can see that twitter gets more mentions of TV.

So maybe Dave Winer is right and twitter is "a dress rehearsal for the news system of the future"!

Health Care, the New Buzz

The economy reigned the news last year, but in 2009, health care was on the lips of news programs everywhere. Compare "health care" and "economy" in Snapstream TV Trends and you can see the economy dominated the national dialog at the beginning of the 2009, but by the end of the year mentions of health-care topics far eclipsed the economy:


Infidelity in 2009: Tiger Woods vs. David Letterman

We all know the media loves a good scandal, and 2009 was rife with scandal. We learned politicians like Mark Sanford and John Edwards strayed from their wives as well as sports superstar Tiger Woods and late night TV host David Letterman. It seems like fidelity was in short supply.

The media treats each scandal differently, following every lead and looking for the best angle to capture viewer attention. It would appear that the perpetrator is a sitting duck once his secret is out. All he can do is try not to say anything incriminating and hope the story dies, right? Not so. Compare the David Letterman and Tiger Woods scandals:

On the surface these stories are remarkably similar. Both involve major celebrities. Both involve multiple transgressions and married men. And yet David Letterman didn't get nearly as much media scrutiny as Tiger Woods got and is still getting, despite the added complexity of blackmail in David Letterman's case. Strikingly, David Letterman got almost as much heat for making fun of Sarah Palin as for sleeping with his staff.

Moral of the story: When caught with your pants down, what you do and how you present yourself determines how much the media is willing to forgive, and how quickly they will forget.


Wonder what else is driving national television trends? Check out the Snapstream TV Trends tool to see for yourself and share any interesting observations you make in the comments below.

-- Aaron Mielke, Software Engineer

Analyzing trends on TV with SnapStream TV Trends

June 09 2009 by Rakesh

Today, we're launching SnapStream TV Trends (http://www.snapstream.com/tvtrends/), a tool that allows you to track trends on national television here in the United States.

tvtrendslogo

Enter a couple of keywords (up to 5) into TV Trends and you'll get a graph showing you the relative frequency of mentions of those words on mostly-news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, MSNBC and CNN.

Here's an example comparing mentions of Twitter and Facebook on national TV:

(click the "SnapStream TV Trends" link on top to see a larger more detailed version the graph) So you can see Facebook was generally getting more mentions on national TV until February or March of this year when Twitter started taking over... and since then Twitter has consistently received more TV airtime than Facebook. And what about that big spike for twitter in mid-April? That was the whole Twitter/Oprah/Ashton Kutcher thing. Here's a comparison of mentions of tech giants Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo on traditional TV:

And the word 'yes' vs. the word 'no'?

TV Trends graphs can be embedded into your website or blog using the simple embed code underneath the graph or you can link to graphs by just copying the URL from your browser's address bar. And on the TV Trends site, you can view excerpts of stories at selected points along the curve and you can filter the results by network (chart mentions of "Obama" on Fox or MSNBC) and by genre (show me mentions of "Obama" on comedy programs).

Another feature of TV Trends are hot and cold words... These are the top ascending (hot) and descending (cold) words on national television. For example, as I write this blog post, the top rising terms, the top hot words, are "north korea" and "two american journalists" -- references to the two American journalists that have been sentenced to hard labor in North Korea.

While many types of analytics are available for other media (see Compete, Alexa, Trendrr) until now, there hasn't been a way to track and analyze what's being said on traditional television. TV Trends attempts to offer some insight into the world of traditional "offline" television...

And behind the scenes, SnapStream TV Trends is powered by SnapStream's TV recording and search technology. SnapStream's TV search technology allows organizations to record LOTS of TV and then search inside those TV shows for mentions of their city government, "breaking news" on a competitive local TV station, an elected official, a natural disaster or anything else anyone might be looking for on TV. You can think of it like a cross between a DVR on steroids (one SnapStream Server can record 10 TV shows at a time) and a search engine. This technology powers TV trends and it's behind TV monitoring at organizations such as E!'s The Soup, XM Radio, NBC, Current TV, the U.S. Senate, University of Southern California, University of Texas, City of Austin, and the City of Chicago. If you use a clipping service or, worse, a bank of VCRs or DVRs, to keep track of what's being said on TV about your brand or whatever, you should give SnapStream Enterprise a look.

So try out TV Trends and let us know what you think! Post your questions and feedback here in the comments or on twitter (we're at @snapstream).

SnapStream TV Search in Action: Plane Crash in the Hudson

January 21 2009 by Lynne Burke

I was deep in marketing-land on Thursday (also known as "writing a case study"), when I heard about the US Airways plane that crash-landed in the Hudson. I grew up in Houston, but lived in NYC for 5 years and moved back last year. I still have lots of friends there...so when I hear news like that coming out of NY I still feel like it's My News and it feels personal. Within minutes, my boss showed me that rescue picture that Janis Krums took from the ferry and posted to Twitter. I was really amazed by how quickly that picture got out. I watched as the number of "views" went from the dozens to the thousands. It was posted and cross-posted on lots of different blogs as the page views overloaded the Twitter server. Twitter is an amazing thing. I posted it to my Facebook page; I had friends in NY who learned of the plane crash from my Facebook post. Incredible.

A few minutes later, I ran across an article on Silicon Alley Insider, "U.S. Airways Crash Rescue Picture: Citizen Journalism, Twitter At Work." I was astonished at how quickly that all happened. I know that sounds cliche...but not just the news of the plane crash - but also how quickly the photo some random guy took from his iPhone got thousands upon thousands of views within minutes; according to Dan Frommer, he was interviewed live on MSNBC just 34 minutes after he posted that photo to Twitter. Pretty cool. It got me thinking about how much technology has changed the way journalists cover the news.

Which got me wondering over the weekend, if I were a video blogger, how quickly could I get up a story about that plane crash? Here in the SnapStream office, we record most of the National news programs for our own interest and example purposes, and we've got alerts that are set up for "breaking news" (read more about that here). I went to my email alerts, did a quick search through Gmail for "Plane Crash" and got several results. I clicked right through to the program through the link in my alert:

In the end, though, I was just fascinated by how quickly that news spread, and how new technologies like Twitter and SnapStream can help journalists keep track of an unfolding event. Pretty cool.

Here's the clip of the TV broadcast my "breaking news" alert linked me to.

TV coverage of the conventions (and the winner is... Hurricane Gustav!

September 10 2008 by Rakesh

Yesterday, I was wondering who got more national TV coverage during the Republican and the Democratic Conventions, so I decided to put the mostly-hidden graphing feature in SnapStream Enterprise through its paces.

I have a SnapStream Enterprise TV Server that records all national TV news programs (including financial news and sports news programs). I had it produce a graph of daily mentions of McCain, Palin, Obama and Biden. And then I took the graph it created (and, yes, I agree with you, our graphs are very 'Lotus 1-2-3' -- we're working on improving this) and added some annotations of my own:

(click to see a larger version)

My takeaways:

  • Biden's not getting much TV coverage! He had a big spike when he was announced as the Democratic VP candidate, but he hasn't had much TV coverage after that.
  • The Democratic VP nominee (Biden) got a bigger spike in coverage when he was announced than Republican VP nominee (Palin) did when she was announced, but...
  • Palin's overall received more coverage than Biden (this, in spite of Biden's 1+ week head start)
  • Obama received more coverage during the Democratic Convention than McCain received during the Republican Convention.
  • Palin and McCain have been getting almost equal mentions on TV since the Republican Convention was kicked off. In contrast Obama is getting maybe 5x more mentions than his VP candidate!
  • Finally, over labor day weekend, Hurricane Gustav killed nearly all discussion of the presidential campaigns!

So in conclusion, Gustav was the winner over the two conventions of the past two weeks! :-)

Experimenting with visualizing TV news (and comedy)

September 09 2008 by Rakesh

Matthew Ericson at the New York Times did a really cool visualization last week, "The Words They Used", comparing the most frequently used words at the Democratic and Republican Conventions (from the article, "Republicans were more likely to talk about businesses and taxes, while Democrats were more likely to mention jobs or the economy.")

This got me thinking about doing something similar for TV programs. So I did an experiment using the excellent word cloud generator Wordle on transcripts (generated with a single click from a SnapStream TV search appliance for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Fox's The O'Reilly Factor with Bill O'Reilly last week (the week of the Republican Convention in Minneapolis). The results:

Monday, September 1, 2008

»The O'Reilly Factor with Bill O'Reilly

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

(there wasn't a new episode on Monday!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

»The O'Reilly Factor with Bill O'Reilly

»The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

»The O'Reilly Factor with Bill O'Reilly

»The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Thursday, September 4, 2008

»The O'Reilly Factor with Bill O'Reilly

»The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Friday, September 5, 2008

»The O'Reilly Factor with Bill O'Reilly

»The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

A few notes:

  • I didn't remove commercials from the transcripts, so for the commercials that had captioning, those are reflected in the results
  • I removed captioning cues from the transcripts so they didn't skew the results... I'm talking about things like "[Applause and cheering]" (mostly on the Daily Show :-)) and "Jon:" and "Bill:"
  • So what do you think? Are these visualizations interesting? What are your observations? I'm not someone who has a background doing content analysis so hopefully I can get some experts to give me their conclusions.

    The word "actually" on television

    July 28 2008 by Rakesh

    Jeff Jarvis wrote a blog post last week about how he thought the word "actually" was overused on television. Here's the post (he lost a bunch of posts and hasn't restored them all):

    Actually is the new ‘y’know’
    July 19th, 2008, by Jeff Jarvis

    The most overused and unnecessary word on broadcast is “actually.” Start counting how many times it is used by TV people and you’ll hate me for driving you nuts.

    While I’m kvetching, why do TV people introduce a panel of three people and then say, “Mr. Jones, let me start with you.” Just start with him: ask your question. Why this need to warn Mr. Jones?

    Our TV search appliance is used by a number of journalism schools for content analysis (like Emerson College and GWU, so this got me thinking about how we might try and use our product to measure Jeff's assertion about the word actually.

    So here's what I did. I took one week of national TV recordings that we had made on a SnapStream Enterprise TV Server and I did some ad-hoc analysis (remember, I'm not expert on content analysis!) on how frequently the word 'actually' appeared by series and by network.

    Here are the 20 shows that use the word 'actually' the most:

    TV Series 'actually' count / hour
    House Call With Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN) 19.17
    Reliable Sources (CNN) 17.89
    ABC's World News Sunday (ABC) 10.7
    The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC) 10.4
    The Newshour With Jim Lehrer (PBS) 8.68
    Washington Week (PBS) 7.61
    Oprah Winfrey (CBS) 7.35
    Fox And Friends Sunday (FNC) 7.27
    The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (CBS) 7
    20/20 (ABC) 6.82
    CNN Saturday Morning (CNN) 6.13
    American Morning (CNN) 6
    Today (NBC) 5.76
    CNN Special Investigations Unit (CNN) 5.63
    Fox And Friends (FNC) 5.47
    The Colbert Report (COMEDY) 5.4
    At The Movies With Ebert & Roeper (ABC) 5.32
    Dr. Phil (NBC) 5.26
    Kudlow & Company (CNBC) 5.22
    Studio B With Shepard Smith (FNC) 5.07

    And here are the 20 shows that use the word 'actually' the least:

    TV series 'actually' count / hour
    Sportscenter (ESPN) 1.45
    Geraldo At Large (FNC) 1.41
    Nightline (ABC) 1.39
    The Tyra Banks Show (FOX) 1.36
    Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN) 1.33
    The Live Desk (FNC) 1.17
    This Week With George Stephanopoulos (ABC) 0.94
    Baseball Tonight (ESPN) 0.94
    Special Report With Brit Hume (FNC) 0.89
    Bulls And Bears (FNC) 0.89
    This Week In Politics (CNN) 0.79
    Lou Dobbs Tonight (CNN) 0.68
    The Beltway Boys (FNC) 0.59
    Cnn Student News (CNNH) 0
    Fox News Watch (FNC) 0
    Forbes On Fox (FNC) 0
    Hannity'S America (FNC) 0
    Cashin' In (FNC) 0
    Face The Nation (CBS) 0
    Now On PBS (PBS) 0

    And here's a summary of the the word 'actually' by network:

    Channel 'actually' count / hour
    PBS 5.84
    NBC 5.1
    CNBC 4.55
    COMEDY 4.19
    CBS 4.18
    CNN 3.75
    ABC 3.71
    CNNH 3.65
    CSPAN 3.59
    FNC 3.06
    FOX 3.02
    ESPN 1.4

    So at the higher end, offending shows are using the word 'actually' between once every 10 minutes to once every 3 minutes. Since I'm not a content analysis expert, what other trends can you draw? How could the test be improved?

    SnapStream is:
    • how The Daily Show finds TV clips for their show
    • how organizations clip TV to Twitter and Facebook
    • how broadcasters can monitor their feeds for regulatory compliance
    • and more
     

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