Film data researcher Stephen Follows has announced the launch of , a new website to share data and analysis on the SVoD sector.
VOD Clickstream is launching as a free membership site – users will be able to access the latest analysis from Follows’ team, join in forums and sign up for weekly newsletters to be kept up to date on the latest SVoD research.
London-based Follows has worked in the film industry for 20 years and specialised in bespoke film research and data analysis for the past decade. He credits his motivation for launching the project as a response to the scarcity of data released by the leading VOD providers, “In the entertainment industry knowledge is power and traditionally creators have been empowered to make creative decisions based on audience feedback and ratings. However, streaming has upended this system and platforms like Netflix are able to control the flow of information. We passionately believe that filmmakers, creators and producers have a right to know how audiences are responding to VOD content. In the short-term, we hope this project provides some valuable insight and in the long-term, we hope it spurs the platforms to share more data.”
In order to develop the project Follows acquired historical data charting user activity on Netflix over a three and a half year period, from January 2016 to June 2019. All the data obtained was anonymised and from users who had opted-in to be tracked via free plug-ins and online services. The company who provided the raw clickstream data asked for their name not be disclosed but Follows says he can vouch for its authenticity, “The data comes from a highly reputable data company and we were given full access to their expert team during the analysis. We also performed due diligence on the data and we’re completely confident that it is as described.”
The first round of articles available on the website offer some fascinating insights into the world of VOD, including an analysis of the dominance of Disney movies on Netflix, as part of their exclusive deal with the platform and prior to them launching Disney+ in late 2019. There are also a series of studies relating to the historical data in relation to film, television and comedy content including insights into how sci-fi movies performed and the most popular TV genres. Follows’ team also analysed solo stand-up shows and comedy specials to ascertain the most watched comedians on the platform.
In order to analyse and interpret the complexities of the raw data, comprising 610 million clicks from viewers worldwide, Follows assembled a team of astrophysicists with experience of working with large quantities of data. His expert team includes data scientists Dr. Alejandro Celis and Jack Tann and is headed up by lead scientist and theoretical physicist Dr. José Eliel Camargo-Molina, whose current academic research aims to offer insights into some of the great unanswered questions in physics such as the origins of Dark Matter.
The data does have its limitations, as Follows explains, “We want to be upfront and say our dataset isn’t perfect, it only covers desktop and laptop users who have opted in and is only for a fixed window of time. However, even with this imperfect lens, we’re able to carefully extrapolate the data and it allows us to look deeper than ever before. This project has been three years in development and we’re very excited to share these insights for the first time.”