How Netflix Used Data Science to Create One of the Most Loved Shows Ever: House of Cards
By Aditi Bhat
Remember the ‘ancient’ times when you had to go through long lists of movies in a DVD shop to find something you liked? Back then, selecting a good movie or a TV show was based on word of mouth recommendations so your choice could end up being a hit or a miss.
Enter the new age of online streaming channels. They’ve gone a long way in ensuring that there are a lot more ‘hits’ than misses when it comes to entertainment. The introduction of services like Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime has spoiled the audience with top-notch entertainment services that allow you to choose your favourite movies and shows with ease.
Although other providers offer good deals, Netflix deserves a special place in revolutionizing online entertainment services. As of January 2018, Netflix had a whopping 117.58 million paid subscribers worldwide!
Now, coming to one of the most beloved and most viewed shows on Netflix: ‘The House Of Cards’! Created by Beau Willimon, it was conceptualized and designed in a way that would make an instant hit with a huge section of users. And needless to say, it struck a chord with viewers in no time. But how?Well, let’s say, with plenty of data.
Probability of success in the entertainment industry
The amount of risk and uncertainty that goes into big budget productions is indeed frightening for the makers involved financially. The product they are going to display might not necessarily grab the attention of the viewers, putting their security and careers at the stake.
So, what did Netflix do differently with House of Cards? It used the magic of data analytics! Nowadays, since every single phase of life is being constantly weighed and measured by big data analytics, it was only wise to keep up with the race.
Once the team figured out that the most important thing to study was from the perspective of a user, a sea of opportunities opened for thepromotion and production of ‘House of Cards’.Knowing what the user expects to find is an extraordinary weapon to increase the sales. The customer analytics tools in Netflix succeeded to hack into the subscriber’s minds by reading and understanding their choices and preferences.
Did you know Netflix committed to two seasons (26 episodes) of the show, without even watching a single episode, bidding a reported $100 million? That’s whopping $3.8 million per episode.
Using data to find patterns
The data points revealed surprising trends in user selections that helped Netflix categorize and analyze its users. Upon finding that Fincher’s movies were of exceptional demand, it was induced that David Fincher coupled with a star-studded cast combination would be greatly welcomed by the viewers.
So what sort of data are we talking about here? Well, Netflix put to usedata analysed from 30 million “plays”, 4 million ratings & 3 million searches! And you thought making a series was as simple as binge watching through it!
So, when the trailers of ‘House of Cards’ were aired, the big data scientists of Netflix were careful enough to sort and find different kind of trailers for different users. For example, Fincher enthusiasts got the trailers they wanted to see, which demonstrated classic Fincher techniques.
The most liked sequence in the series is when the President in the show speaks directly to the audience, a trick that had a proven historical data of succeeding. Just like the show where Francis Underwood seeks the help of data science to achieve maximum efficiency for his presidential campaign, Netflix also used data to win the market.
Marketing analytics for campaigns
When the show was up and running and saw it become a huge success, Netflix decided to up their data analytics game even further. This time they used predictive analytics for marketing each season of House of Cards.
For example, the team released the very dark & gloomy House of Cards Season 5 trailer amid President Trump’s inauguration. Why did they do this? Because it coincided with the sombre mood of the audience in general. The epic trailer featuring the American flag flying upside down reflected the ongoing political scenario at the time!
The super power called data
Every organization needs the super power to predict the market behaviour. With various machine learning techniques, Netflix has been calibrating our cravings into a well-defined business agenda. This accomplishment would be the beginning of a new technological paradigm that is both flattering and reliable.
Maybe next time you could even try and let statistical analysis do the work of selecting the real president! What say?