Giving Viewers What They Want

Description: In the television business, there is no such thing as a sure thing. You can have a gold-plated director, a bankable star and a popular concept and still, it’s just a roll of the dice.  Or is it?


Date: Feb 24, 2013


Netflix, which has 27 million subscribers in the nation and 33 million worldwide, ran the numbers. It already knew that a healthy share had streamed the work of Mr. Fincher, the director of “The Social Network,” from beginning to end. And films featuring Mr. Spacey had always done well, as had the British version of “House of Cards.” With those three circles of interest, Netflix was able to find a Venn diagram intersection that suggested that buying the series would be a very good bet on original programming.  Big bets are now being informed by Big Data, and no one knows more about audiences than Netflix. A third of the downloads on the Internet during peak periods on any given day are devoted to streamed movies from the service, according to Sandvine, a networking provider. And last year, by some estimates, more people watched movies streamed online than on physical DVDs.  Read Rest of Story 

Questions for Discussion:

1. Can Big Data be the silver bullet that can determine something as subjective as a what will bea hit TV show or Movie?  Why or Why Not?

2.  What other applications can you see Netflix using there vast amount data that could create revenue streams for the company?


19 thoughts on “Giving Viewers What They Want

  1. Logan Reiter

    I dont believe that big data can be the silver bullet in determining what be a hit series. I believe that it can help to promote or determine this but is not the most important factor. I also believe that Netflix could use their big data to make a great deal of money for themselves through advertising and utilizing it by promoting different shows and movies.

  2. Navreet

    Big data is useful in determining a user’s likes and dislikes. It does accurately determine the choices of the consumer. It can take a lot of marketing factors in mind and make educated classifications based on geo-demographic and economic factors. Once Netflix has all this important data, it can be in a right position to assist movie producers and advertisers. It is another way Netflix might increase its revenue. Again, information by itself is of no use if it is not classified and utilized in a smart manner. Netflix’s recommendations have been working so far for the users and it is quick in determining them. Netflix can definitely use the big data that they have collected to their favor and also to others. It does determine the choices of the consumers accurately and caters to their needs pretty effectively. It is no surprise that movie producers want to have an edge by knowing what the consumers really prefer to watch.

  3. Brendan Schlossberger

    The big data can become a very useful tool in business, if it is implemented and analyzed as effectively as Netflix has done. They analyze millions of files using big data to determine exactly what the data is telling them. Without the people analyzing the data correctly they would not be as successful as they have been. In fact without the correct analysis of data which showed people watching the shows they may have not known the House of Cards would be successful. Big data is also more effective in using something as basic as what movies are being watched. There aren’t too many variables with Netflix; either people are watching the movie or they aren’t. If Netflix didn’t have 33 million subscribers the fact that maybe some people turn the shows on and either fall asleep or end up not watching may play a larger part but that population is so minimal in 33 million that it doesn’t affect the analysis. This data would ultimately be useless without the people to analyze it. Netflix could possibly if they wanted it get into the movie business. If they know the actors and directors and type of movies that are successful they could combine them to produce movies in similar fashion to how House of Cards was created.

  4. Brandon

    Big data can definitely be the silver bullet to determining what will be a hit and when. By utilizing big data Netflix is able to produce something that it is sure will be a hit. It really is not a far-fetched idea once you think about the data that Netflix has compiled. For starters, the company knows what people like to watch. They know which actors most frequently appear in those popular titles. They also which genre has the most viewers. So with all that data it really is not surprising that they would be able to create a series that people would want to watch. House of Cards may seem to be a gamble, but once a person considers the amount of data and research Netflix has put into it, it really is not. It falls more to the side of an educated, calculated risk. And that is something that businesses do everyday, all across the globe.
    Potentially Netflix could use this information to bring in different movies and TV series that would be more desirable to subscribers. They could also use this dataset to create strategic ads on their site, if they decided to pursue ad-based revenue. The opportunities are endless when one considers all the information that big data contains.

  5. charles chow sau pui

    I don’t feel the big data could help Netfilx to beat TV show or Movie because there are many alternative entertainment nowadays. Even for drama and tv-show, we might watch them on you-tube or others online free channel. The big data might just help to catch the general preference. However, it doesn’t help on selling the products.
    2. What other applications can you see Netflix using there vast amount data that could create revenue streams for the company?
    If i am the Netflix, i would induce government to get more control for online copyright and get more online advertising because those are the only ways to grow greater profit. We have to get online users to know about the online copyright for movie or drama are involved. Also, i would like to do more online advertising on social website,such as,facebook, blogger,twitter, myspace& etc because those website users are potential customers for netflix. Those users should spend lot of time on internet, and they are comfortable to suffering the net in their daily live. Therefore, they are possibly to buy product through the internet.

  6. Dallon Martin

    I don’t really think that they can become a sliver bullet however they can develop huge trend and fades due to its massive and growing amounts of data. Netflix can pretty much guess what type of shows will be more popular than others due to its data linked to the type of show that people see as a hit. this system is only going to get better as they find more ways to work with statistics and improve the information and rating systems. They can definitely become more of a sliver bullet. They have to figure out a way so that people have to rate the movies because this will help them get more of that information that they need, but at the same time this might upset customers. I think Netflix has the power to predict which movies may be more successful than others when dealing with a fairly and already fool-proof genre. But they do not hold the ability to see the future, and thus this holds a lot of risk.

  7. Colin Stevenson

    Big data will never be a certain silver bullet as to what will constitute a hit. As the example was given that many recommendations are not exactly what the customer will like, there is a high probability that they will contain things a customer may like. In the case of Netflix choosing successful aspects and putting them together for a successful program, the data is a tool of information. When I watch television, the majority of the time I think that the people producing it should have used the data technique used by Netflix. There is so much garbage television it is amazing. Having that extra tool to provide insight on whether or not this production will be successful can eliminate some of the risk. Major television productions cost a lot of money and any risk these productions can eliminate from the equation is beneficial.
    Netflix has already been successful in targeting movies and TV programs to customers based on what they have previously enjoyed. The possibilities are potentially endless for other revenue streams. If they were ever to begin selling of this information to other marketers they could make a lot of revenue off that alone. If they were to bring in merchandise or products tied to the popular movies and programs they could also make a large profit for the studios and networks that produce them.

  8. Abraham Sarthak

    Big Data is surely a useful source of information for the companies .But i am not sure that big data can be trusted there is no authority which tells us that the big data would be correcct .As in the case of the previous article big data without context can create a huge amount of problems too.So i would say that even though big data is a useful source it can not be trusted at all.Sometimes it can be helpful but not all the time. Nowdays every companies has excess to big data that means that no company should fail .But i think along with the big data we need to have intelligent brains to use that big data to its full effectivness. The big data can also be very misleading too sometimes when it doesnt have a proper context .So we need to make sure we use it intelligently.

  9. Ollie Sherwood

    I not too sure if they can become a sliver bullet however they can build great trend and fades due to it massive and growing amounts of data. Netflix can properly guess pretty well what type of shows will be more popular than others due to its data linked to the type of show that people see as a hit. They will only improve on this system because of their ever growing and improve information/ rating system so in the not so near future, i like that they may become more of a sliver bullet. To do this they may have to make the star system mandatory for consumers to use which might have an effect on customer satisfaction.
    Other applications from the vast amount of data that they have could be within the advertisement sector. Movie companies and network stations may also want to purchase such information if it helps them to guarantee the success of a series or film. With such massive amount of data that is only going to grow everyday, more and more online organizations might want this data to see what type of series and movies the majority of people are selling so they can push the products that are within that show. A good example of this would be Harley- Davidson products being in the popular show Son’s of Anarchy. Knowing how many poeple watch this show can help increase harleys sales.

  10. Antonia

    I don’t think that big data could be the silver bullet that can determine what will be a hit TV show. I do think it will help them understand what peoples preferences are and can assist companies on making decisions, but it will not be the main determinant on if it is successful or not. It will assist companies in determining trends in movies references. Netflix knows a lot about their customers but they will not be able to predict future preferences, as peoples preferences change. Big data can steer companies in the right direction but it depends how the movie is produced whether it will be successful or not. There are more things that go into movie than just the plot, you can have a good plot and bad actors and the whole movie could be ruined.

  11. Mohadese

    Netflix big data would include useful information but it would not tell the whole story and predict the future. Netflix have much information about its customer but Hollywood audiences are more than that. Moreover, Netflix have sufficient information about what its customers select to watch from the options and movies they have but not from what the director would make in near or far future. Despite of Netflix big data, social and demographical research are needed to predicting what audiences like to watch in the future.
    In addition, I think some memorable and impressive movies, such as Titanic, are made based on high quality story, actress, director and all professional crews. I think the director of Titanic, James Cameron, made the movie not based on what he knew about the audience but based on creativity. Creativity is not the criteria that can be estimated or learn from the past. When we look at successful movies they would have different stories, use different technologies, but they would not repeat the past. The companies which use the big data would be just the follower of the market and would not achieve high success.
    Overall, the pool of data and information that Netflix has would create revenue for the company; but the cost of dissatisfied customers who concern about their privacy would be more than the revenue.

  12. yuxuan.hou

      After read this short article i think the Netflix could be a silver bullet because of many reasons, whether Netflix is success or not is determined but its viewers, it means which kinds of styles people want to watch. Netflix is good at date collection, date collection could help Netflix to know which kinds of TV shows they need to make and ads they need to adopt. It also shows the personal tastes of consumers. Netflix company put in lots of capital and much time to make can telecasts and movies. Netflix careful to hire all kinds of movie practitioners and make a successful movie. Therefore, viewers would like Netflix’s products and choose it.

  13. Kristian Rochon

    I do not believe that Netflix will become a silver bullet. However, big data needs to be understood and utilized with help of context. As mentioned in the article, data is statistics from the past, however this can give a clear and thorough understanding of what the future may bring. Forecasting techniques should be implemented, but there will always be an element of unpredictable events. There are things that cannot be forecasted, so creativity will always have to be at the forefront, especially in television and movies industries. There is a fine line on relying on big data and understanding big data. If used correctly, big data will bring nothing but benefits. Netflix has made this evidently clear with their recommendation feature. For all of us that have used Netflix, this feature has provided us with many shows and movies that we may have never watched, nor heard of. Netflix understands data, this was highlighted in the article when they mentioned searching was still a big part of user experience. There will always be a human element that cannot be predicted, but with the help of big data this is increasingly becoming smaller, but will never be fully eliminated.

  14. Brogan Mueller

    I do not think Netflix can become a silver bullet in determining what people will want to watch. As known, Netflix’s strong suit is recommendations. These recommendations are not always chosen by those who watch movies on Netflix. I think Netflix got lucky with the series House of Cards, and I don’t think their success came from their Big Data. A production company can hire a great director, a great writer, and get actors and make a fairly successful movie, and many movie productions companies have done this. I also think there is a trend towards certain dramas, or horror films, but sooner or later people are not going to want to watch something that is almost exactly the same as something they just watched. Viewers want change, and excitement and Netflix can not product this is a fool-proof fashion based on previous experiences. I think Netflix has the power to predict which movies may be more successful than others when dealing with a fairly and already fool-proof genre. But they do not old the ability to see the future, and thus jump of board with a more innovative/creative and perhaps risky series.

  15. Crystal Smallface

    I think that it can, by a high percentage give a foreseeable forecast on what tv show or movie will be a hit or miss among consumers. The numbers are in the millions and big data can be useful in this type of application because every number is important and represents a revenue stream that can be realized. It also shows the personal preferences of consumers which over time can be very resourceful. Other types of applications can be created from knowing what types of movies or tv shows consumers want because Netflix can then apply their statistics to providing more choices that will be successful. They can streamline and provide alternate choices if a customer selection is not available, or they can give discounts to customers who purchase a number of selections from a certain genre. Netflix is successful because of the convenience and the increasing alternatives to watching movies and tv shows, such as providing customers with the ability to watch them online or directly from cable/satellite tv, in addition to renting the actual dvd. I myself have not bought into Netflix because I usually buy dvd’s rather than rent them online or in store. This gives me an advantage of having the convenience of watching the movie/tv show again and best of all saving dollars in the long run.

  16. Katie Guccione

    I would not consider Netflix to be a ‘silver bullet’ but i think that the data that it collects through its users and their preferences they will be able to grasp what the viewers are demanding and preferring. I think that by simply allowing people who use their services to give feedback and rate their products they will be opening up the ability to see upcoming trends and offer feedback. I think that this is possibly already being done as you can see through the growing popularity in some trends, such as vampires through Vampire Diaries and True Blood and zombies in The Walking Dead. These trends are clearly being seen some how and thus since this is what the public wants to see, it is what is being offered. I do not think this is all offered to Netflix but I do think that as its popularity is growing steadily, so is its ability to help in predicting and viewing trends will only grow as its number of users does. I do not think that you will be able to strictly rely on this, but I do think that it is a good stepping stone and place to start.

  17. Josh

    Netflix has been able to accomplish something that few other companies have been as successful at; that is, utilize new technologies and adapt to new economic trends. While Blockbuster and Roger’s Video blow away, Netflix has and continues to revolutionize their business model, as well as the home entertainment industry overall. Their enhancements in not only service procurement but in product development and marketing could be a major starting point for the future of television programming and beyond. As skeptical as some people are toward the predictive capabilities of data analysis, it’s obviously working pretty well so far. My sister got recommended “Raising Hope” on Netflix, and after watching all of its seasons with her, I quickly was referred to another Greg Garcia TV series, “My Name Is Earl”. I am now only 10 episodes away from finishing the 4 seasons of that show, all thanks to Netflix recommendations. Although the data analysis system Netflix is utilizing is relatively comprehensive, I’m sure the commercial and industrial innovators are and will continue to find new and deeper uses for this technology. With the multiple applications of Big Data only beginning to appear on the horizon, there’s really no way to predict where it will go next (unless it has found out how to do that too!)

  18. ibrahim.akinola

    I can see Netflix using their vast amount of data to create revenue by assisting companies to advertise their products; the entertainment industry will be Netflix biggest customers because the film production industries would want to advertise their movie or t.v show trailers on Netflix website and get feedback on what consumers feel about it. Hence making Netflix to raise revenue from charging fees to film industries to advertise their movies and t.v shows on their website.
    I believe that Big Data be the silver bullet that can determine something as subjective as what will be a hit TV show or Movie because based on the data acquired, the film industry can understand the type of improvements and adjustments they can make on their production so as to make it a masterpiece and derive profits from it.
    A good example is how movie companies are able to gather information and determine that their movies and show will sell and be appreciated globally; this forecast as enable a lot of production industries to increase their revenue by expanding and screening their films overseas. Based on the big data more American movie industries have figured out that there is a huge global market for their product.

  19. Marc

    1. Maybe not a silver bullet, but like any performance metric, it can build trends. With enough demographic data in user accounts, Netflix can guess pretty well what reception will be of a new series based on trends of how related series have performed. This information will grow even richer if they improve their content rating system; now you have to dig for the rating button, but the rating button should be a popup you see every time you end a program, either finished or unfinished.

    2. Just the same that Facebook shows you what it thinks you want to see, Netflix’s recommendation engine shows you things that it thinks you want to see… and just as Facebook sells advertisements, Netflix could take advertising fees from movie makers to push their movie or series up into more people’s recommended movies.


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