How Netflix Uses Big Data

Orcan Intelligence
The Startup
Published in
2 min readJan 12, 2018


Most people are guilty to hours of binging on the online streaming platform, but how does Netflix keep attracting our attentions? Well, the answer lies in big data.

Being able to visualise data and gather valuable insights is key to Netflix’s success. They are able to adjust algorithms, address insights and solve problems easily and efficiently thanks to appropriate data and analytical techniques.

Viewing habits are pivotal data points for predicting consumer behaviour. These included time of day a movie or TV show was watched, time spent selecting movies, and even how often playback was stopped.

Measurable attributes gave Netflix the foundations to start analysing their consumers and provide them with relevant and personalised content.

Netflix’s tagging system allows them to suggest and recommend other films and series’ they think people will enjoy based on their previous viewing history. These suggestions drive users to click and engage further with content.

To use big data to their best advantage, Netflix moved from using the data reactively to proactively. It took Netflix 6 years to collect enough data until they were confident that they had all the ingredients to make a hit show according to what their big data was telling them. This show was House of Cards.

Using viewers’ viewing habits, Netflix were able to perfectly engineer a show that had all the elements to become a phenomenon, demonstrating how to perfectly combine data and creativity.

Netflix has increasingly used this ‘magic’ formula for creation and continue to experience positive responses; the success rates for Netflix’s original shows are 80% as compared to the 30%-40% success rates of traditional TV shows.

Not only this, but thanks to targeted recommendations and advertising, Netflix has been able to lower its promotional campaign budgets by being able to target only the most relevant and valuable people at a time.

So next time you are watching Netflix, take a moment to think about what data you are giving them simply by what you are clicking, searching and watching. It’s surprisingly more than you think!

For more insight on big data, data science, and artificial intelligence, follow Orcan on Twitter.

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Orcan Intelligence
The Startup

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