The recent book, “Streaming, Sharing, Stealing” by Michael Smith and Rahul Tenang outlines the effects of technology on the media space. A good review of the book can be found on the Scholarly Kitchen.
One of the early stories in the book outlines the value of data in making decisions. Producers were shopping an American version of a British show called, House of Cards. The show would star Kevin Spacey, be directed by David Fincher, and be adapted by award-winning screenwriters. Networks balked. They didn’t think political dramas sold anymore. They wanted a multi-million-dollar pilot to be made before making any commitment. Even the stellar names associated with the project didn’t change their tune. The show was on the rocks.
Luckily, the producers were in discussions with Netflix for potential secondary rights. This proved fortuitous for both parties, as Netflix was moving toward creating its own content since licensing other people’s content was proving fraught. Exclusivity has its allure.
Into the data they dove, and found that many Netflix subscribers had enjoyed the British version of House of Cards. Better still, their audience loved things starring Kevin Spacey and shows directed by David Fincher. Netflix data analysts could also see that their subscribers enjoyed political dramas. By connecting these dots, Netflix felt confident that a US adaptation of House of Cards would be a big hit with their subscribers. So, sight unseen, they plunked down $100 million for two seasons — longer seasons by a few shows than networks would have offered.
There’s much more to the story, and the book is a great read. But we’re seeing the effects of data analysis everywhere, from baseball to broadcast. Now, with more data coming from publishing systems in our ecosystem, it’s time to embrace the opportunities.