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TVB switches to IBM for smarter rating reports and business decisions


To continue growing in an increasingly dynamic market, TVB wanted to deploy a business intelligence (BI) platform that increased sales efficiency and enabled smarter decisions by producing more accurate, timely and comprehensive rating & revenue reports.

TVB replaced its legacy solution with one built using IBM Cognos, IBM DB2 and IBM Wintel servers that provided a simple, intuitive and personalized BI workspace for sales, market analysts and senior management.

KC Leung

KC Leung, Manager - Marketing Research & Information Department, Television Broadcasts Ltd

Television Broadcasts Ltd (TVB) is at the center of Hong Kong’s TV and cinematic aspirations. Founded in late 1967, the company offers a range of broadcasting services that over 2 million homes rely on, including High Definition TV. During prime time viewing hours, the Chinese and English channels achieved a remarkable average of 86% and 75% share of Hong Kong’s television audience respectively.

The new IBM solution enabled:

Rating Success

TVB’s huge success continues to secure earnings from commercial advertisements, which represent approximately 90% of its total revenues in Hong Kong. These are based on the ratings data and a number of internal and external data sets that the company regularly produces.

Ratings data are especially important for advertisers and advertisement agencies for making fact-based buying decisions. This directly affects TVB’s revenues with a minute of airtime valued at a few hundred thousand dollars of revenue for TVB. Besides, to serve the interests of Hong Kong viewers, the company’s top management and its sales staff heavily rely on daily TV ratings data and advertising reports to gain in-depth insights and gauge the popularity of their programs. These reports are probably the only available means to track viewer behavior.

Managing Growth Pains

Success has meant tremendous growth for TVB, but has also driven its stakes higher. To cope with the business growth, the company increased its channels from two to five (i.e. Jade, HD Jade, Pearl, iNews, and J2) in 2008 so that it can reach out to more diverse groups of audience. However, this expansion meant that more data needed to be collated, populated and analyzed, thereby further taxing the legacy BI system.

TVB was also growing through its online website,, which reached out to an increasingly mobile and Web-savvy audience. The measurements in this virtual world differ significantly from the traditional. To enhance decision making and efficiency, the company wanted to consolidate all these various reports onto one reliable and flexible system in the future.

Understanding its audience better was an additional worry as TVB looked to grow its market share further by reaching out to a more segmented audience base. The company wanted an easy-to-use BI system that allowed its sales staff to identify more opportunities and design effective sales campaigns faster through self-service report generation.

Legacy Challenges

Faced with mounting challenges and changes, the company wanted to modify its previous BI system. However, the over 20-year-old system did not fit well with TVB’s long-term strategic growth needs. It was difficult to trace, modify and adjust to a dynamic business environment. Besides, to modify the legacy system, the company’s staff required a higher level of programming skills.

Extracting the right data and preparing ad-hoc reports were also becoming laborious. The marketing and sales employees were taking longer times to “mine the date for the right insights”. That meant new and short-term opportunities were difficult to capitalize on.

In addition, the legacy system was purchased with no perpetual license scheme. This meant that TVB had to pay for huge increases in renewal fees annually, making it more difficult to justify the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Instead, TVB decided to search for a dynamic and scalable BI solution that supported its business growth and enabled its research and sales teams to conduct ad hoc, in-depth queries easily and generate personalized reports for their own perspectives. They finally found their answer with IBM.

Switching Channels to IBM

IBM’s answer–IBM Cognos --offered an immediate benefit that TVB originally did not search for: it simplified its architecture by consolidating the number servers needed.

In the previous architecture, data was propagated from the mainframe to an AIX-server, before being uploaded onto another AIX-server using the proprietary Access tool. This AIX server then collated this data with marketing company analysis results sent via FTP and emails, before producing out advertisement and rating reports.

The Cognos-based architecture removed the need for the second server. Instead, data was sent directly to the Cognos Wintel server, where it was collated and converted into detailed reports. That essentially meant better manageability, enhanced performance, increased scalability and improved cost savings in terms of licenses and maintenance. Better stability of a simpler and smarter architecture also meant that TVB can easily increase the number of channels to be monitored confidently.

“IBM Cognos has met our expectations, and even exceeded some. Now with leading-edge BI capabilities, we can react faster and maximize opportunities more efficiently than before. We are also truly impressed with the professionalism and the strong support shown throughout the project by IBM and its Business Partner GA InfoMart, which contributed to the successful deployment.”
– KC Leung, Manager – Marketing Research & Information Department, Television Broadcasts Ltd

Increasing Business Agility

The Cognos platform delivered on all of TVB’s requirements in terms of complete, consistent and timely information. The solution answered the company’s quest for better decision-making tools and allowed the senior management to always have their fingers on the pulse of the market.

The intuitive GUI was also far superior and reduced learning curves of non-IT personnel, namely the analysts and sales staff, and allowed them to conduct ad hoc queries on their own. It increased the productivity of their staff and improved TVB’s business agility.

Improving Cost Efficiency

Pricing was now simpler. The annual fee model of the legacy system meant that TVB had no choice but to pay in order to keep their BI capabilities.

Having only one vendor providing both the database and the BI on the Wintel platform had an additional benefit: TVB did not have to worry about managing multiple vendors or solutions. The single-vendor architecture also provided the company a single point of contact for future needs, reducing TCO concerns.

Reaping Benefits

TVB is already reaping the benefits of the new IBM Cognos-based BI solution--thanks to the four-year installment contract arranged by IBM Global Financing. The company recruited IBM Business Partner GA InfoMart Ltd to design the architecture, integrate and implement the solution. GA InfoMart’s commitment, strong knowledge and skills acquired from managing TVB’s previous platform allowed a smooth migration and avoided costly problems, while providing many valuable suggestions of further enhancements.

Since going live in early May 2010, the new system improved BI performance by at least 20%. With accurate and timely reports and easy, in-depth sales queries, TVB is now able to respond quicker, make smarter decisions and improve sales efficiency. The new GUI also allowed both the sales and research teams to maximize sales leads and new market opportunities by quickly adjusting to dynamic market demands and trends.

The self-service BI feature allowed business users to readily run ad-hoc reports without the need for complex programming. This reduced the workload on IT while increasing the productivity of the users. The intuitive GUI also reduced associated costs for recruiting specialized IT talent or training of current users.

The highly scalable and available architecture allowed TVB to easily monitor all free, pay and digital channels. Now the company is looking to expand its scope of monitoring to include the audience and advertising performance of its internet portal in the near future. IBM Cognos also provided a solid and easy-to-use platform to develop an integrated BI system using data sets from various sources.

Meeting expectations

Overall, the IBM Cognos deployment met and even exceeded the customer expectations. It improved TVB’s return on investment (ROI) by reducing TCO by 20% to 30% in the coming five years. Intangibly, it also sharpened the company’s competitiveness by allowing accurate and timely reports and analysis to be produced at any time.

“IBM Cognos has met our expectations, and even exceeded some. Now with leading-edge BI capabilities, we can react faster and maximize opportunities more efficiently than before. We are also truly impressed with the professionalism and the strong support shown throughout the project by IBM and its Business Partner GA InfoMart, which contributed to the successful deployment,” said KC Leung, Manager – Marketing Research & Information Department, TVB.

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