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House of Cards, Creativity, and Big Data

By   /  March 25, 2016  /  No Comments

hcby Angela Guess

Shane Atchinson and Jason Burby recently wrote in The Next Web, “Data and creativity can work really well together. Don’t believe me? On February 1, 2013, a TV series called House of Cards debuted on the video streaming service Netflix. It proved an immediate hit. Two years later, it has a nine out of 10 rating from more than 275,000 reviewers. Those numbers place it in the same category as Avatar and The Sopranos, but this success, some said, was guaranteed in advance. Why? Netflix had used all the Big Data it collected on its viewers to determine what they might like to see. In other words, data inspired the creative direction. This approach produced strong reactions. ‘What?’ asked some. ‘You used data to make a TV show I loved?’ Some thought the entire world audience would be reduced to a pack of zombies, doing whatever Big Data told them to do… Ok, slow down. It didn’t happen that way.”

They continue, “First, much like Google, Netflix has a lot of data. Currently, it has many millions of customers worldwide and spreads a very wide net to collect data on them. In particular, the site also logs something it calls ‘user actions.’ These include the times of day people watch horror movies (not before breakfast) and when they watch humor. It also logs when you start and stop viewing, what you rewind to watch again, whether you watch on a TV or iPad and so on. It even looks at pirate movie sites to determine what’s trending. This, theoretically, gives them very deep insight into peoples’ taste in entertainment… Nearly every e-commerce site deploys techniques like this to increase sales and make better experiences for their customers. But where it gets interesting is that with House of Cards, Netflix was not using data retroactively to make suggestions for content. It was proactively using data to figure out what its customers would like to see in the future.”

Read more here.

Photo credit: Netflix

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