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Netflix, Data & Custom-made content

The TV business model of a pioneer

For sure, we have witnessed a reinvention of television. Netflix has reformed it and has influenced storytelling overall. But what was it based on ?

We know that traditional TV channels' incomes depend on advertisers. According to TV ratings, the latter invest or not. But as you probably noticed, Netflix is free from advertisers. Thanks to the subscription income, it can only focus on viewer satisfaction. So that means the platform doesn't have to gain the biggest audience possible for every program. Its real intention is now to deliver relevant content to every customer. Since they won't offend any advertisers, they can even produce controversial content. The business model has had an impact on storytelling. Instead of having one program at a specific time with stereotyped characters made to please everyone, we have now a huge quantity of programs, in the same time, with really more sophisticated characters. Progress !

Data analysis versus creativity ?

For some years now, other streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and now HBO Max appeared and balanced Netflix hegemony. Those Silicon Valley companies carefully study their users' habits, tastes, and wishes through data. So it raised some concerns about the future of entertainment. Would it be increasingly shaped by data analysts rather than by creatives following an artistic point of view ? Can they work together ?

Actually, it may be positive and even promoting the rise of a new golden age of innovation. Against all the odds, Netflix's foray into the world of original content reveals that the reverse has happened : data-driven platforms result in innovative, high-quality content.

Datastorytelling and custom-made content

Content customization means using data to create highly personalized content that is apparent in the final creation and not just for "targeting".

With datastorytelling, or the process of creating a story out of data analysis findings, Netflix investigates our preferences, tastes, and it tells us related stories. As David Carr reported in The New York Times, Netflix is commissioning original content because it even knows what people want before they do. Those analyses have led to collaborations such as that of David Fincher and Kevin Spacey in the first series produced in-house House of Cards. So will TV concepts success still be a roll of the dice this way ?

Transparent use of data in brand communication

Now all streaming services have individual communication to the viewer and focus on building trust rather than "tracking" and targeting. So it means a transparent use of data. This is also useful for the storytelling of the brand itself. Netflix acts as our best friend, knowing us by heart and sometimes making fun of us. In the 2017 ad campaign, “To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?” But while many people saw the humor, others were creeped out by the specificity of the information.

Today, Netflix justifies its use of data, as you can read in its blog. Finally, be aware that now you can even set Netflix usage of your data. But are you ready to sacrifice the video quality for less data usage ?

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