Asleep At The Wheel Again?

Yep.  My Great White Whale is at it again, and the fact that a headline in yesterday’s THE WRAP was devoted to it in a manner that gave it any air whatsoever ticks me off bigly.

Regular readers know I’m relentless against Parrot Analytics, and I won’t burden you with any regurgitating as to why.  There are previous musings you can reference for those specifics.  Simply put, their “data” is based on a thoroughly inconsequential concept of a metric.   But when that “data” is used for an advertorial-driven “insights piece” that attempts to use those “insights” toward a target they have CLEARLY not done any recent research on how and why they are moving forward as a business, and then draws conclusions that reflects exactly how ignorant they are, rest assured I won’t let any opportunity pass that will point that out to anyone who might pay attention.

Here’s what Daniel Quinaud, described as a senior data analyst at Parrot Analytics, a WrapPRO partner, offered up to that publication in a piece with this tantalizing headline

Why The CW Has to Reinvent Its Streaming Strategy | Charts

Here’s how Quinaud set up his premise:

Since a lucrative output deal with Netflix ended in 2019, CW shows have tended to go on its parents’ streaming services Max and Paramount+. The CW has its own streaming app and website which Nexstar has increasingly emphasized in investor presentations as its way into the ad-supported streaming market. And with Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global now owning smaller stakes which Nexstar could buy out altogether next year, The CW is set to chart its own streaming path.

The CW has several problems to solve with a schedule revamp that is taking it away from its YA roots, including the fact that many of its popular shows (as well as some duds) are expensive to license and it doesn’t see ancillary profit streams from them. The question now is whether The CW can take advantage of its shows’ successful presence on third-party streamers while it tries to establish its own digital audience.

So far, so good.  Quinaud accurately described the dilemna.  He then went on to offer extremely pretty charts that document the network’s history that is now moot, and points out how some of their current series have what he contends is an outsized presence with some of their former series on Netflix and some of the ones they have retained for the moment on Max.  One particularly misleading pretty chart documents their demographic four-quadrant global, all-time splits as a defense for why Quinaud believes they could be best served by pursuing deals with Netflix, Apple TV+ and Hulu.

Except…had Quinaud and his management even bothered to actually read anything else that has been written about the CURRENT CW strategies that have been dropped in even the last WEEK, they MIGHT have realized most of those ships have already sailed.

That same pretty chart documents the white area of older, high male audience, one that a company that owns nearly 200 broadcast affiliates, almost all of which who have extensive local news presences that skew toward that quadrant.  It is quite clear that that is what Dennis Miller, Mike Baird and those now actually steering Nexstar and the CW are going after when this news item about the fate of sports franchises occurred in a piece authored by “Michael” on AutoGuide:

The CW, following Nexstar’s acquisition of a majority stake in the network in 2022, is revving up their live sports coverage with live motorsports. As reported by, The CW has struck a groundbreaking deal with NASCAR, making it the exclusive home of the Xfinity Series from 2025 through the 2031 season.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series races draw an average of approximately 1 million viewers per race each season, on a combination of cable and broadcast television. Now, with The CW deal, it will be exclusively on broadcast and live-streaming platforms who carry the channel.

Fox and NBC Universal hold NASCAR’s broadcast rights through the end of 2024, and the Xfinity Series primarily airs on FS1 and USA Network currently, with races also being shown on Fox and NBC. These are all relatively easy-to-view channels that are carried by every cable and satellite provider.

As for The CW, if you don’t know how to get the channel because your races have never been there before, you aren’t in the minority. Until recently, The CW’s programming consisted almost entirely of DC Comics superhero series and young adult dramas. Nexstar has been shaking up that programming recently with its deal for LIV Golf and their interest in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

And had Quinaud dug a notch deeper into what was already out online before he hit “send”, he might have seen this more detailed piece from the ever-diligent Jon Lafayette of Broadcasting and Cable describing the direction and priority of Nexstar’s new sales and management team as to what kind of research they see as meaningful:

Declaring that its audience is being undercounted, Nexstar Media Group, the nation’s largest owner of television stations, is sending requests for proposals to measurement companies, seeking innovative technology and methodologies that will better serve advertisers, media owners and consumers.

When The CW added LIV Golf to its lineup in February, Nexstar hired iSpot.TV and VideoAmp to measure their audiences across platforms and got numbers significantly different from Nielsen’s.

“Measurement innovation has become a top priority for our company. We are putting money and resources behind it,” Michael Strober, who joined Nexstar as chief revenue officer earlier this year, told Broadcasting+Cable.

Strober said he “knows” Nexstar is not getting credit for all of its viewership.

“I think it’s well widely known with all the recent attention put into measurement that we are no longer accurately counting the viewership across screens,” he said. “A lot of audience is watching our content now on a myriad of endpoints and whether it’s streaming, our digital properties, the apps and, of course, the linear broadcast. We’re not getting or not getting the full credit for the audience.”

And Strober isn’t just talking a big game, he’s one of the few empowered executives who’s actually bringing in smart people to help him deliver on his goals.  As Lafayette continued,

As part of its push for better measurement, Nexstar has hired former Innovid exec Hanna Gryncwajg as VP of measurement innovation, a new position. Earlier in her career, Gryncwajg worked for programmers including MTV Networks, Turner, NBCUniversal and AMC Networks.

Nexstar is actively hiring people to work under Gryncwajg, Strober said.

“Creating this new team with me speaks to the fact that we’re serious,” Gryncwajg said. “This team will work across Nexstar with operations, with monetization, with our research department to make sure we’re supporting our sales effort and sales is supporting their advertisers.”

I’ve gotten to know Gryncwajg over the years, and I can personally attest she’s one of the brightest and savviest researchers I’ve met along the way.  And no, I’m just just saying that because they have openings.  I say that because anyone who doesn’t already know her name should know how much credibility there is attached to hers, even if it’s one that’s difficult to spell accurately.

That’s far more than I can say for Daniel Quinaud.

Look, I get that Parrot has a pulpit even if I don’t think they merit one.  Advertorial content is a reality of our times.  One look at any local newscast in a major market these days will reveal how all of those expanded local news hours are filled profitably with companies hocking goods and services in exchange for paid time or space.  Parrot has a war chest, THE WRAP is trying to stay afloat as a legitimate competitor to anything not connected with the Penske Corporation, and so they need to fill those commitments with something that appears to be objective, nuanced research-based reporting.  Cute headlines and fancy charts can be a big step toward filling that goal.

But if you’re going to have that voice, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to at least have some understanding of exactly what a company you’re calling out has already announced its public intention to do before you publish something that essentially says they made the wrong decisions.

Call me a petty cloud-yeller if you will, but I sure as heck wouldn’t have much faith in a company seeking my business that couldn’t even factor those realities in before they publicly dropped my employer’s name in print.  And I WILL publicly and strongly advise Strober and Gryncwajg to do the same.

Misguided research has consequences in a media landscape as fragile and challenged as the one we are in.  At a time when the very fate of the industry is at stake, Parrot’s very mention by SAG-AFTRA officials hurt their negotiating credibility enough as to set their efforts to pursue transparent, meaningful data and equitable solutions back by several weeks.  And there’s an actual domino effect to those missteps.  Real people with real lives are suffering as a result.  And, tangentially, so am I.

So no, I can’t sit back quietly when the little snot in the front of the classroom jumps up and smugly proclaims they have the answers, when it’s pretty damn clear they didn’t even fully understand the question, or do the homework required to accurately answer it.

Sharon Waxman and her team may be being paid enough to call something as tone-deaf and inapplicable as this piece is objective reporting.  You’re not.  And at the moment I don’t think Nexstar’s leadership team is, either.

So let’s not give this Parrot any more air than it already has.  Some birds can fly, but none can drive.

Until next time…

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