MTV Networks Exec Explains How MovieTracker Quantifies Social Buzz Around Films (Q&A)

9:16 AM PST 11/02/2011 by John Gaudiosi

New addition to NextMovie.com tracks and quantifies social buzz on Hollywood films in production and in theaters.

Over its first 12 months, Viacom Media Networks' NextMovie.com site has attracted over 1 million unique viewers, according to Comscore. Today, the site adds MovieTracker to the mix. The new product, which was developed in partnership with social intelligence platform Trendrr, tracks social movie buzz through platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and the blogosphere for Hollywood movies. MovieTracker ranks the top 25 films according to social buzz for movies in production, coming soon or in theaters. MovieTracker will be launched as an app for iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices early next year. Scott Robson, vice president and general manager of NextMovie, talks about the new product and what’s next for the site in this exclusive interview. 

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The Hollywood Reporter: How does this MovieTracker technology separate itself from other sites and tracking out there?

Scott Robson: There isn’t really another product quite like this for movie fans. The MovieTracker isn’t based on box office performance, which is how most movie rankings are compiled. Instead, it’s driven purely by the social conversation around movies. It’s the first time that what movie fans say – on Twitter, on Facebook and in the blogosphere – really matters in a quantified way. It also allows fans the opportunity to add their voice instantly to the conversation around any given movie in the rankings, and to access the latest content for that movie—along with show times, trailers, cast and crew info and more—on NextMovie.

THR: How will it work within the Viacom Networks?

SR: The MovieTracker will launch initially on NextMovie.com, but it will appear soon after across multiple Viacom Media Networks properties, including MTV.com, VH1.com and the Logo sites. It’s also possible that versions of the MovieTracker at some point will appear on air, on the MTV Radio Network and more. Senior management, including MTV Music Group President Van Toffler and MTV Digital EVP Dermot McCormack have been incredibly supportive of the MovieTracker and its potential to serve both casual and hard-core movie fans.

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THR: How will you differentiate movies that are out versus movies coming soon?

SR: From day one, the idea behind the MovieTracker is that when it comes the conversation around movies, fans can be excited about a movie that’s in theaters, a movie that’s opening next week, or a movie that’s just been announced by a studio. That ability to cast a wide net—just like movie fans do when they’re talking about movies they’ve seen or want to see--is one of the biggest differentiators for the MovieTracker. It can and does registers fan excitement about a property regardless of timeframe. So a movie like The Avengers or The Hunger Games can rank just as high as, say, Paranormal Activity 3 or The Lion King. We intentionally don’t differentiate between movies that are in theaters and movies that aren’t. We’re even looking into the possibility of adding key DVD releases into the equation at some point, which would give an even more complete look at movies from a fan’s perspective.

THR: What role does social buzz play with movies today from what you've seen with your audience?

SR: The NextMovie audience lives on the social and mobile platforms as much, if not more, than it does online. Social buzz is both the fuel and the glue for millennials. They expect their interests and passions to be reflected in the products they use, whether it’s a site they visit, a social network they utilize or a mobile app they download. The MovieTracker delivers on those expectations, because it’s driven by the social conversation—i.e., their conversation. It’s an ideal tool for this audience it serves.

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THR: When will MovieTracker launch as an app and how will that experience differ from the Web version?

SR: We hope to have a MovieTracker app live for iPad, iPhone and Android soon after the start of the year. The MovieTracker provides a great doorway into the broader NextMovie experience—it offers access to NextMovie news and features as well as showtimes, trailers and deeper movie information—so we’re banking on it as the centerpiece of our mobile strategy.

THR: Are there plans, if this does well, to expand this technology into television and videogames?

SR: Anything is possible at this stage, of course, but the focus for NextMovie remains on the movie space and maximizing the value of the MovieTracker across as many platforms, partners and brands as possible.

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