In an article entitled “Giving Viewers What They Want”, The New York Times reported that Netflix created its first blockbuster television series, House of Cards, based on the tastes and viewing habits of its 33 million users. According to an independent study cited by TechCrunch, the series has already been watched by 10% of Netflix subscribers. This is a very good score, especially when you consider that the series will be accessible to both present and future Netflix subscribers.
Normally, producers and broadcasters will attempt to determine what audiences want based on past successes, awards, audience ratings and the bankability of actors and directors. Netflix, however, has made all of its production decisions for House of Cards based on the extensive amount of viewership data they have collected. And so, we are left with this paradox: if viewer data becomes the determining factor of what television shows or movies get made, it will inevitably lead to the standardization of TV programming.
That said, House of Cards is complex and dark and not what many would consider to be an “easy” series to watch. Nor is it one that production companies would readily sink more than $100 million into its creation. What remains to be seen is if this magic recipe is reproducible – something which will require viewers to keep a close eye on future productions from the house of Netfilx. After all, the history of filmed fiction shows that you should never rule chance out of the equation.
Read more from Jean Pascal at A Nos Vies Numériques.