Saturday, February 9, 2013

TECHNOLOGY: Terrifying Fact of the Day

You have to read this Salon article about how House of Cards is a new frontier of creating content based on what producers will think we like -- only using hard data rather than guesswork:

For at least a year, Netflix has been explicit about its plans to exploit its Big Data capabilities to influence its programming choices. “House of Cards” is one of the first major test cases of this Big Data-driven creative strategy. For almost a year, Netflix executives have told us that their detailed knowledge of Netflix subscriber viewing preferences clinched their decision to license a remake of the popular and critically well regarded 1990 BBC miniseries. Netflix’s data indicated that the same subscribers who loved the original BBC production also gobbled down movies starring Kevin Spacey or directed by David Fincher. Therefore, concluded Netflix executives, a remake of the BBC drama with Spacey and Fincher attached was a no-brainer, to the point that the company committed $100 million for two 13-episode seasons. 
“We know what people watch on Netflix and we’re able with a high degree of confidence to understand how big a likely audience is for a given show based on people’s viewing habits,” Netflix communications director Jonathan Friedland told Wired in November. “We want to continue to have something for everybody. But as time goes on, we get better at selecting what that something for everybody is that gets high engagement.”
During last night's blizzard, I watched the first episode, and I felt kind of let down. Spacey is Spacey, the way he always is; some of the lines came across as ridiculous, and honestly Lincoln did a better job of pacing a story about legislation and political intrigue. But it's a bigger story -- can entertainment be created by data?

We'll see.