Top Data Execs at Netflix, Disney, WarnerMedia Drive Streaming Wars

  • As the streaming war escalates and tech giants like Amazon enter Hollywood, data has remade showbiz.
  • Netflix streamer data managers at Disney + analyze audience engagement to attract and retain users.
  • Insider shines a light on Hollywood’s top executives who are using big data to innovate and win in entertainment.

The mantra of 21st century business has now been said so many times that it may seem trite: Data is the new oil.

But in the midst of the so-called


Wars that continue to rage in Hollywood, where industry watchers and Wall Street jockeys meticulously monitor every rise (and lag) in streaming subscriber numbers, the data has fundamentally changed the way entertainment industry does business.

Overnight ratings – from “How many people watched last night’s show?” »Variety – are generally considered to be an ancient science. Today’s data managers look at engagement and completion, slicing and dicing the metrics available to them.

“Everyone uses data,” said Farhad Massoudi, founder and CEO of Tubi, the ad-supported streamer acquired by Fox Entertainment last year. “Cable networks and broadcasters use data, which means the next day they’re looking at the notes. And they don’t know if, you know, the ratings are up because the football game on the other broadcast network was bad, or because this particular show was good… they have no idea. looking at to data. ”

Being data-driven, Massoudi added, means looking at audience segmentation, users’ lifetime value and revenue, as well as using the data to determine what content to acquire or produce.

Speaking to Hollywood data science chiefs reveals that there is a particular skill set the industry is looking for as competition in the direct-to-consumer space intensifies.

“Decision science requires more than a solid analytical and technical background,” Will Gonzalez de Peacock, executive vice president and chief data officer of NBCUniversal, told Insider. “We need people who can turn data into insight, stories and recommendations, and communicate clearly with stakeholders in the organization to help them make decisions that will move the business forward. “


continues to gain the upper hand with its early adoption of data science, bringing its paid subscriber base to over 200 million worldwide and honing its ability to star in a new show or movie through to its algorithmic home page gyrations.

But old Hollywood studios have invested millions in their own data and analytics operations, undermining top-tier data frameworks in other industries. And while Netflix’s data science team grew 15% year over year, Disney’s streaming data team doubled in the same amount of time.

While the industry is hungry for new content, studios and streamers may be even hungrier for data and analytics workers to help them understand how to capture and retain the modern viewer. As Sony Pictures’ chief human resources officer Stacy Green recently told Insider, entertainment companies “literally pay whatever they have to pay at this point” for, say, a data director position and analysis.

Insider shines a light on some of the industry’s top data science operators and explores the impact of their work in Hollywood.

Lance B. Holton