Caryn Mandabach, Parrot Analytics’ Julia Alexander on Content Valuation


Acclaimed producer Caryn Mandabach and Parrot Analytics’ Julia Alexander weighed in on valuing content in the streaming age in a session at MIPCOM moderated by World Screen’s Anna Carugati.

Mandabach has a host of credits, including the megahit Peaky Blinders. Alexander serves as director of strategy at Parrot Analytics, which helps IP owners and platforms determine how much a TV show or movie is worth by assessing the audience demand for that content in the “attention economy.” They sat down for a conversation in the Grand Auditorium with Carugati, the group editorial director of World Screen.

“If we think about what television was 30, 40 years ago, there were very limited channels and spaces for attention to collect,” Alexander said. “You could program into a certain hour or a certain couple of hours to make a block. And you could genuinely figure out the type of share of demand that you were going to have within that space. With the birth of the mobile revolution, the level of attention has just split into a billion different areas. When you’re programming television, you’re programming for that TV to be watched potentially in a certain time slot, but also, plus three days on streaming, people rediscovering old hits and watching it on their phones via TikTok and YouTube clips. We really need to take into consideration just how that fracturing of the space changes how we go about acquiring shows, producing shows and understanding the audience for those shows, locally and globally.”

On maximizing the revenues on an IP, Mandabach noted, “It used to be the 80/20 rule. If you produce something in the U.S., 80 percent of your revenue would come from domestic repeats, and 20 percent would come from ‘ROW.’ Then it started to reverse. There are so many fine-tuned structures that enable you to either get paid or not. It’s just that we’re in the middle of it now. I don’t know how it ends.”

Asked what production and distribution execs are not able to know in the current environment, Alexander said: “We are still trying to operate in an apples-to-apples environment, where you could look at five shows at 8 p.m. on Tuesday and say, Here’s where the share of the audience is. Here’s what the demo of that audience is. We are in an apples-to-bananas world where you really can’t do that, especially if we take into account the fact that there is this giant walled garden that producers and production companies and networks and studios are operating in. They actually don’t know what the value of their title is to a streamer like Netflix or HBO Max because that information is held so close to their chest.”

Alexander said that Parrot Analytics can “collect demand expressions for over 2 billion data inputs, looking at tens of thousands of shows and movies and talent. We can actually prescribe a numerical value to each of those entities across any part of the production line, right through to selling, across any distribution platform. This is so key right now; because of that walled garden situation I was talking about, all these distribution pathways have opened. What is the most valuable place for a show, dependent on either the seller or the buyer? Would this serve a linear audience better? Or, actually, could this go to a streamer? Is this something that’s going to provide value by [providing] retention across high-risk churn customers? Is this going to bring in new customers in the taste cluster or within a whitespace opportunity that isn’t being reached? Is this something that we want to license for five times what we could be getting for it by going to someone else we didn’t even consider? That’s what content valuation is for. It’s really designed to help everyone across the chain. Producers don’t have information from the streamers about what their show is worth. This is to help producers and buyers understand what the true value of your show is and what more you could get from it somewhere else.”

Mandabach added, “What does the value mean? How deeply do people feel [about a show]? Peaky has a wide audience, but it’s a deep one,” with strong engagement across Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Parrot Analytics, she said, “is helping not just to monetize, you’re helping to impact the way people feel. My job is to make you think, and my job is to make you feel. What connects us is more than what divides us. You’re giving us a big thing about how we all feel. We really need the feedback because we just have no idea who’s watching it.”

“Data is a lighthouse,” Alexander said. “What the content evaluation system can do is showcase where there’s opportunity. Where is there an ability for a producer or creative team to bring their show in to generate strong profit but really connect with an audience? Our content valuation system takes into account content affinity. For people who watch a show like Peaky Blinders on Netflix, what other shows are they watching? If there’s a really strong connection between someone who watches Peaky Blinders and then Squid Game and Stranger Things, that’s more valuable for Netflix when they’re looking to retain customers, especially right now, than to [a platform] that might want that show from an acquisition perspective.”

“If you don’t have the feedback, you’ll make giant mistakes,” Mandabach said. “To hear why [a show resonates] is invaluable now.”