Ted Sarandos: Data, Judgment, Curation

“It is important to know which data to ignore […] In practice, it’s probably a seventy-thirty mix. Seventy is the data, and thirty is judgment, but the thirty needs to be on top, if that makes sense.”

– Ted Sarandos (Chief Content Officer, Netflix)

As someone interested in the data-driven side of entertainment, I love hearing things like this. Yes, data is important — invaluable, really — to discover out what our audiences want to watch and how. But as important is judgment, or taste. So even in data-driven entertainment firms, it’s important to recruit leaders with a well-developed creative sense, as well as a mastery of analytics.

As Tim Wu puts it in his The New Yorker article about Sarandos:

“Perhaps what we are seeing here is better explained by the rise of a different kind of talent. It is a form of curation (at which Sarandos excels) whose aim is guessing not simply what will attract viewers but what will attract fans—people who will get excited enough to spread the word. Data may help, but what may matter more is a sense of what appeals to the hearts of obsessive people, and who can deliver that.”

Image courtesy of IndieWire.

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