Is Content King — or Is Data?

You may think Netflix’s business is offering subscription video streaming of increasingly original content and MoviePass’ offering subscription access to theatrical content, but there’s a hidden asset that buttresses both — consumer data.

Speakers at the February Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina Del Rey, Calif., pointed out the importance of data in entertainment disruption.

“MoviePass is a new type of business model,” said John Penney, EVP of consumer business development and strategic partnerships at 20th Century Fox. “Data is really the core of the business.”

Another Fox exec at the same event, on the panel “Does Hollywood Need a Blockchain?,” noted the importance of data in the entertainment industry. With their exclusive data, digital retailers have become “gatekeepers of what consumers are interested in,” said Ron Wheeler, SVP of content protection and technology strategy, adding a “potential effect of blockchain is the decentralization of access to data.”

You may think blockchain is only about cryptocurrency, but it’s also about precise data tracking, just the kind of thing digital companies such as MoviePass and Netflix are now keeping to themselves.

Data on consumer preferences can affect marketing spend — and the very content that gets produced. Currently, studios must depend on tracking from retailers, theater chains and other outside sources. Meanwhile, Netflix and MoviePass have data that tells them exactly what entertainment viewers are consuming. In the case of MoviePass, that data tracking could extend to where they ate dinner before the movie and whether they used Uber to get there.

It may be time for Hollywood to pay as much attention to data as it does to development.

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