Is Netflix piggybacking on big data for the upcoming House of Cards launch

Netflix, America’s most popular VOD and the creator of series House of Cards and Orange is the New Black ushered in its creative renaissance thanks to big data. In 2013, Netflix green lighted the production of a 1990s BBC miniseries House of Cards, a decision informed by big data. Circa 2017 and four seasons down the line, big data is still taking the immensely popular and most streamed Kevin Spacey-starrer series forward.

The Los Gatos headquartered entertainment company has become a thorough data and analytics enterprise and even took the fun out of choosing which series to watch with its popular recommendation algorithm. Not to forget the famed $1 million Netflix Prize 2006 — machine learning and data mining competition that sought the best collaborative filtering algorithm to predict user ratings for films and series. Pegged as the biggest disruptor in the media space, data and analytics has become central to its success, not just in content creation but also in marketing strategies where data plays a big role every step of the way.


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Interestingly, the video streaming company recently announced reaching 100 million subscribers.

Besides using big data and analytics to deliver tailor-made content, Netflix has another first added to its name –  mainstreamed binge watching (it released all the episodes together).

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House of Cards Season 5 is backed by data and analytics again!

Tweaking trailers according to audience preferences: Netflix moved past commissioning original series to tweaking trailers based on audience insight. Reed Hastings led Netflix made ten different cuts of House of Cards trailer, each tailor made for a specific audience set. Netflix grabbed more than 3 million customers worldwide thanks to House of Cards series.

Marketing analytics for campaigns: The company is known for optimizing their marketing campaign based on audience segmentation and user behavior. This time they used predictive analytics in marketing the latest season of House of Cards latest season to understand the best marketing approaches. The team released the dark, noir trailer of House of Cards Season 5 amid President Trump’s inauguration. Needless to say, it coincided with the somber mood. Dubbed as a great marketing campaign, the unnerving trailer featuring the American flag flying upside down reflected the reel and real ongoing political chaos.

Bettering the Netflix user experience with Personalization: Netflix personalization and recommendation algorithms have now become part of data science lore. Safe to say it’s real breakthrough comes with personalization, wherein contextualizes suggestions based on regional preferences.  Netflix that is now threatening premium cable network HBO, Showtime and NBC always comes up with novel ways to keep the millennials glued to the second screen.  According to Netflix spokesperson, data is used to justify the economics of a project and the minimum audience size needed for a project to succeed. And the same data is used to test new features for audience convenience.

In a first, Netflix wants to debut the ‘Skip Intro’ button that allows users to skip the credits and watch the show. Another first is phasing out five start ratings with  thumbs up or thumbs down.  The star rating have been replaced with a personalized % Match score that is derived from algorithms analyzing user viewing habits and behavior. According to the Netflix blog, the new content rating system thumbs helps them learn more about the unique tastes of users.

Immersive mobile experience: Mobile has been the backbone of Netflix. Netflix has always focused on mobile users who like to consume content on the go. Last year, Netflix rolled out a data saver feature that allowed mobile users to adjust their data consumption settings based on video preferences. The move was based on the research and testing carried out based on the research and testing that indicated that many users worried over data usage and high charges.

This year, Netflix is planning a better, immersive mobile experience with mobile-specific cuts of movies and shows to users. The premise is creating a version with shots that are easily viewable on a mobile phone. Again the move was informed by data-driven insights wherein it was found that the majority of viewers in international market consumed content on mobiles.

Acing the translation: Earlier in March, the video streaming giant launched Hermes – the translator testing platform that aims to improve the quality of subtitles on the shows. Netflix also scours social platforms like Twitter and FB for insights on translations and uses it to fix gaps. The move brings together best translators around the globe who can read between the lines and help users enjoy TV shows in their own language.

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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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