Online video data won't predict hits, executives say

HOLLYWOOD--One of the promises of online video is the huge amount of data points generated every time someone watches a video. User and usage data can help set strategies and goals, but they won't write scripts or predict what content will take off, industry executives said at BroadbandTVCon in Hollywood Tuesday.

"It's not like we're taking this data and saying to our writers 'Hey, you have to hit these five words,'" said Margaret Laney, chief marketing officer for AwesomenessTV. "It's more about understanding, in relative terms, how we can create the best programming possible."

Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) has touted how it used user data to develop "House of Cards," but that show would have been produced by another network had Netflix not stepped in, said Jada Miranda, senior vice president of creative for Xbox Entertainment Studios.

"'House of Cards' was being shopped around and Netflix stepped up with a huge amount," added Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, senior vice president of multi-platform programming at Fox Networks. "That would have been made and distributed by someone else."

Data can be helpful, but it won't predict a hit, said Brent Imai, executive director of original content development at AT&T's (NYSE:T) U-verse. "We definitely look at what our subscriber base looks like and directionally, what are they interested in, but there's no way the data is going to predict the next hit show."

Related articles:
Lionsgate's Packer says online video distributors are stingy with viewing data 
Nielsen says it will test online TV ratings 
Netflix makes its next exclusive bet