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When media meets technology: how data is disrupting the creation of content

by Olly Robinson , 06.06.2013

One key aspect of the new connected landscape is the quantity of data it’s producing, and how device manufacturers, service providers, and content producers are starting to put it to use.

Take Netflix, which has received substantial critical praise for its first attempts at original programming. In its own words, compared to licensing existing content “there is more judgement required in this process, but because of the data we have on our members’ viewing habits and our experience in licensing a broad range of content, we think we can do as good or better job than our linear TV peers in choosing projects and setting budgets”.

So Netflix uses the data it collects to provide a competitive advantage - not just in negotiations with content providers - but also in the process of creating content itself. Will it work? The process of creating great content remains a mystery to greater minds than mine, but the early success of original series ‘House of Cards’ is a promising starting point. Certainly if we know anything about data, it is that the more we gather, the more we learn and the better our decisions become.

This new connected landscape shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. As one of our panellists, ITV’s Jon Block points out, content producers have been using data since Charles Dickens incorporated feedback into his weekly instalments of Great Expectations: “it’s just that the feedback loops are becoming faster and representative of larger audiences and this means the potential effect is greater.”

By the same token though, we shouldn’t underestimate its impact. Increasingly, Big Data is allowing us not just to measure, but also to understand. The availability of data on how people react to content and also why could be more transformative. Another panellist, Indiemedia’s Mark Rowland, cites Big Data as the next big disruptor to the media and content industries: “the lesson of each technological step – as they become faster and faster – is to be ready for what comes next.

In an ecosystem where devices, service providers, and creators and distributors of content are increasingly interdependent, understanding and unlocking the value of data is shifting from a competitive advantage to a strategic necessity.