Love them or hate them, what Netflix did with their exclusive series, House of Cards, was genius.  This article in the New York Times covers it in greater detail, but the short version is that Netflix used all of their subscriber profile data a.k.a. big data (viewing habits, likes, interests, etc.) and translated the British version of House of Cards into an exclusive series for the network.   They’ve taken the concept of focus groups to a new level and I think it’s brilliant.

That is, provided I don’t think about it too much.

Having content or product recommendations available for you based on your viewing or purchase history isn’t something completely new. Amazon has been doing this as far back as I can remember. (Which depending on how old you are, it’s funny to think about life PA – pre-Amazon.)

It’s actually a pretty effective method to maintain consumer loyalty as well as raise awareness for other similar products. On Netflix specifically, I have found myself watching some of the “You may also like” suggestions that non-aggressively pop up on my screen.

But let’s pause a moment because the term “big data” may not be familiar to everyone.  (Hi, mom!)  Big Data is a collection of data sets that are so large that it becomes a challenge in trying to manage the information with normal data applications.  For Netflix, I’d imagine this kind of information pertaining to things like:

Go to their site, and in their search field, type in “genres”. It’s interesting to see what you may get as the results.  This is probably just a sampling of the type of data Netflix is trying to manage and let’s not forget they’re doing it for their 33 million global subscribers.  God bless you, Netflix IT guy!

House of Cards itself, a fantastic show. I may not be Netflix, but I would highly recommend it.  It’ll be interesting to see if this type of data manipulation becomes the “norm” for television. I’ll be keeping an eye on Netflix with great interest.

Does the idea of having your preferences stored and used in this capacity frighten you or does it make it easier to knowing companies know what you like/dislike and can cater to your needs?


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