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OPINION: Strategic scheduling with fingertip simulation

Michel Beke, SVP product strategy, MediaGeniX, describes new tools that improve the broadcaster’s ability to choose the best strategic plan with related financial impact

Crafting a schedule is an art. It appeals to the expertise, vision and gut feeling of the scheduler. To create a successful schedule you need a sound knowledge of costs, audience behaviour, competition, current affairs, and marketing.

Over recent years, financial aspects have increasingly come into the equation, as commercial pressure calls for a tighter budget control. Remaining stock value is an asset for future plans, wasted content is money down the drain. This means that stock analysis becomes ever more important. As broadcasters keep launching new channels and services, it also gets increasingly complex.

Also, broadcasters need to be more agile now. They have to consider more strategic options and react more swiftly to new opportunities or threats.

If broadcasters are to sustain their profitability, they need to work as efficienty and flexibly as possible with the available content stock and market information.

The way to go is to analyse costs, ratings and other KPIs in multiple simulation schedules and, by comparing these, make the best strategic choice. Budget exercises are currently so labour intensive, however, that broadcasters rarely succeed in making more than one simulation.

The basis for cost and stock calculations are the runs. And here is the catch: The run count in the simulations, which are limited in time, need to be judiciously combined with the run count in the limitless actual schedule, which goes way back. Since there is more than one schedule version, there is more data to be considered. Also, as content can be scheduled on any of the broadcaster’s channels, that use must be reflected when working on a simulation of another channel.

The innovation that the broadcast management system WHATS’On introduces is basically an improved way of run planning that enables the cost of a simulation to be calculated automatically. The cost is accurately updated with changes in the actual schedule and in the actual contract and finance management, and can be frozen so that the grounds of a strategic decision can be consulted later on. Content used in the simulation is represented accordingly in stock queries that are simulation specific.

An added functional benefit is that the new simulation tools allow for multiple ‘mini-simulations’ on a tactical level of scheduling. With this innovation WHATS’On enables broadcasters to bridge the gap between the art of scheduling and the need for predicting costs and key performance figures in multiple simulations.

The possibility to create more than one simulation and creating each simulation quicker with high precision, gives them a competitive edge in this very dynamic market where it is crucial to be as agile and efficient as possible.