Data Driven Media

The uses of Big Data are expanding beyond the technological and business worlds into the realm of entertainment. In regards to this expansion, The New York Times ran an article by David Carr, “Giving Viewers What They Want,” which addressed the growing uses of Big Data within the media industry. There is debate about whether data from Netflix users can be reliable in determining the success or failure of a new program, but it seems that “House of Cards” is the Netflix success story.

Netflix recently used Big Data to analyze information gleaned from their 33 million subscribers worldwide to develop a concept for their new original program “House of Cards.” Based on the data, they combined well-reviewed actors, themes and directors to create a show their viewers would love. “Film and television producers have always used data…, but as a technology company that distributes and now produces content, Netflix has mind-boggling access to consumer sentiment in real time,” Carr writes.

Despite the apparent success, some – including John Langford, president of FX – are skeptical of data being an indicator of response to innovative programs. Langford is quoted: “Data can only tell you what people have liked before.” Alternatively, Rick Smolan, author of “The Human Face of Big Data,” was quoted stating, knowing what viewers are watching gives Netflix a competitive edge when developing programming.

If Big Data becomes the trend for developing television concepts, we may see a rise in consumer-driven decisions in other media from design to content, writer or medium. This is already happening on a smaller scale, but with an increase in data the possibility for input and innovation is limitless.