A Scientific Model to Predict the Grammys? Pittsburgh Firm Making Its TV Debut When It Forecasts Show Winners

By Todd, Deborah M | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), January 22, 2014 | Go to article overview

A Scientific Model to Predict the Grammys? Pittsburgh Firm Making Its TV Debut When It Forecasts Show Winners


Todd, Deborah M, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


In the run-up to the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, amateurs and experts alike are betting rapper Kendrick Lamar will be named hip-hop's Good Kid and singer Lorde will receive the Royal treatment.

But with a slew of predictive data compiled using the opinions of music fans from across the country, a Pittsburgh company could steal the pre-show.

South Side-based polling and data analysis company CivicScience will make its national television debut today when CEO John Dick takes part in AXS TV's first ever "Grammy Prediction Special." Hosted by AXS TV host comedian Ryan Stout, the broadcast will feature a panel discussion that includes Mr. Dick, music critic Bob Lefsetz and radio host DJ Skee.

The hourlong show starts at 8 p.m. today and will be replayed throughout the rest of the week until the day of the big show. The 56th Annual Grammy Awards airs live Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.

The link between what the Grammys calls "Music's Biggest Night" and CivicScience started last year with the movie industry's biggest night, the Academy Awards.

To predict who would take home the 2013 Oscars, CivicScience identified poll takers who had previously shown a talent for predicting trends surrounding movie box office performances, television ratings and the sale of products related to movies or television shows. The top predictors were folded into a group of more than 100,000 who were then asked to make predictions on the Academy Awards.

The result: a compilation of answers that were as good as or even more accurate than those gathered by insiders who had been studying the awards for years, said David Rothschild, an economist at Microsoft Research.

"In a forthcoming academic paper, we show that CivicScience's 2013 Academy Award polling stacked up very favorably against industry pundits and even statistical models," said Mr. Rothschild in a news release. "There is a lot of potential in the polling techniques they are using; this type of polling can be extremely accurate if you ask the right questions and know what to do with the data."

Once results of the Oscar predictions made the rounds -- including to CivicScience advisory board member and AXS TV founder Mark Cuban -- the decision to try a similar model to predict who would win Grammys this year became a natural next step. …

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