Data Diaries: How analytics sold Netflix on House of Cards

Data DiariesIt’s one thing to have access to a lot of data. However, it’s another thing entirely to trust your data enough to take action based on it… especially when that action comes with a $100M price tag.

But that’s exactly what Netflix did when it decided to produce an updated version of “House of Cards.”Other companies might have balked at such a risky move, but Netflix knows a lot about its more than 30 million subscribers. And it was that deep, analytics-driven understanding of its subscribers that led Netflix to greenlight “House of Cards.” It was a bold decision that could have been very costly if the series hadn’t turned out to be a blockbuster hit.

So what exactly did Netflix uncover in its data? Well, the company knew it had a large number of subscribers that enjoyed the work of director David Fincher. It also knew that it had a large number of subscribers that liked Kevin Spacey films and the original British version of “House of Cards.”

And at the intersection of those groups, it found a ready-made audience for the new version of “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher. Netflix knew it was likely to have a hit on its hands before airing the first episode.

Insights don’t have inherent value. They only matter when they’re used to influence actions, like Netflix’s big bet. And it takes a special kind of corporate culture to become truly analytically driven. Those are the types of enterprises we identified in our Generation D study.

These data-rich, analytically driven enterprises are leveraging a wide variety of new, non-traditional data sources and sophisticated analytic capabilities to drive their businesses forward. And as it so happens, they outperform their peers across a variety of KPIs.

If you’d like to know more, take a look at the study. And while you do that, I’ve got to get back to binge-watching “House of Cards” season 3.


A close-up on Derek:

Derek Franks, Data Scientist at the IBM Center for Applied Insights, focuses on research that provides insight into emerging business and technology trends. Prior to joining the Center, he was part of the IBM Retail Store Solutions group, where his work centered on how to help enterprises use technology to drive improved business results. He has been a speaker at global IT conferences and events and has collaborated with top companies from around the world.

Fun fact: Derek almost ran over a bear while mountain biking in Whistler, Canada.

2 responses to Data Diaries: How analytics sold Netflix on House of Cards

  1. Rui FU says:

    This is the power of data. Solid data base gives Netflix good information on people’s preference. It is extremely important in media industry. Netflix successfully convert the value of these data into monetary market value. No doubt, this is a win-win situation. Netflix satisfied the public with a great TV series while make a huge profit for itself


  2. Arineh says:

    Netflix has done a data analysis research on mostly watched type programs by its audience, and also has collected data in how people in general responded to that specific director’s movies and how succesfully they have been sold, and have come up with the great idea to risk offering money to film a new version of “House of Cards”. This is how important data analaysis and collecting statsitcs could be.


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