With 36 million subscribers, streaming entertainment giant Netflix not only has a cash cow of paying customers, it also has data. Lots of it. And Netflix is in no hurry to share it. CBS’s chief research officer David Poltrack recently tried to trick Netflix into revealing its data by releasing his own research on what CBS thinks Netflix customers are watching. He invited Netflix to correct him where he’s wrong. Don’t expect Netflix to fall for it.
Because Netflix is quietly a data company as much as a production company and streaming platform. And unlike CBS and other traditional broadcast media entities, Netflix doesn’t rely on a third party like Nielsen to capture its viewer data. (Though Nielsen has said it will start trying to monitor Netflix and other online viewing platforms.) Netflix keeps its own data–privately. Do Facebook, Google and Twitter give away all their data? Of course not, most of their value is derived from data they source from their users. Just because people watch Netflix more than they “watch” Facebook, Google or Twitter doesn’t mean the company needs to subscribe to the old model. Are you an advertiser who wants to reach a 32-year-old male with a penchant for binge-watching House of Cards between 1 am and 4 am, who has seven chick flicks in his queue, who pauses every 26 minutes for a 132-second break (is that for a snack or bathroom trip?), who rates every 4th episode, who shares every 6th one, who consistently favors stories with female lead protagonists, who….? With Netflix, there’s a lot of value behind the screen. Data is why Netflix won’t talk. You have to pay for it.