Netflix’s creative decisions are caught between data and gut-feeling
The Future. Netflix makes content decisions by filtering both a creative exec’s opinion and the data presented by its content, strategy, and analysis (CS&A) team… but, sometimes, the data has more influence than an exec’s instincts. It’s a phenomenon that has given Netflix a particular reputation in Hollywood. As the CS&A team relies more heavily on using Netflix’s own Originals to compute audience insights for new projects, the streamer may risk only supporting projects that feel too similar to past releases.
According to Insider, former Netflix creative execs are concerned that the company’s data hawks hold a little too much power on the platform.
- The CS&A team provides cost-benefit analysis to each project by considering factors like audience engagement, regional popularity, overall programming strategy, comp analysis (what movie or show is like this), and talent worth.
- Members of CS&A are assigned to creative exec teams so they’re always available to provide insights.
While every studio and streamer has some audience-data analysis team, Netflix’s CS&A team reportedly holds a powerful sway over what projects are greenlit, acquired, or renewed for additional seasons.
Who’s still watching?
That outsized authority is the problem, former Netflix employees told Insider. There are times when the data is helpful, and other times when something is so new or fresh or just comes from a diverse point of view that there aren’t enough analytics for the data to be of use.
- So, a lack of data may lead the CS&A team to conclude that the “data does not support” taking a chance on a film or show, says one former exec.
- That forces creative execs to put themselves on the line to fight for the life of projects they oversee.
And the bar for a green light or renewal is so high — thanks to the streamer’s renewed focus on the bottom line — that even titles on the platform’s heralded “Top 10” list may not hit the metrics needed to warrant more investment.
Data can be merciless.