Data Shows the Netflix–Shonda Rhimes Partnership was the Right Move

Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder. . . and a Netflix Original Series?

Netflix subscribers were sent into a panic in early August when Disney announced it would be removing all Disney and Pixar movies from the streaming giant and would create a Disney-owned streaming platform. Netflix fans questioned whether Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal – all created by Shonda Rhimes and owned by Disney’s ABC – would be removed from Netflix.

Shortly after the announcement of Disney’s new streaming service, Shonda Rhimes announced she would be ending her 15-year tenure with ABC to enter an exclusive content-creation partnership with Netflix. Although The NYT reports that Netflix will still have the streaming rights for the back library of Shonda Rhimes’ shows, adding Rhimes into the Netflix family was a smart, data-driven, and defensive move that Netflix fans will love.

Netflix knows their audience better than any other platform

Netflix isn’t just a streaming service; they are a data company with a wealth of knowledge about their subscriber’s viewing habits. Netflix uses advanced user data to understand what content best resonates with their key audience segments. This data informs every part of the Netflix engine, from content recommendations to what new shows they should add to their roster as a Netflix Original Series.

The addition of Rhimes is no exception.

Netflix knows that Rhimes' shows like Grey’s Anatomy are key binge-watching shows for the Netflix user base. In fact, according to AdAge, “ABC has Netflix to thank for "Grey's Anatomy's" renaissance. The show has become a favorite binge for younger viewers, who were mere toddlers when the show first debuted on ABC. Many of these viewers are now watching over 200 episodes of the show on Netflix and then tuning in to watch live on ABC.”

While it is unclear if new episodes of ABC shows will be available on Netflix post-Disney launch, having new Rhimes shows will be a sure-fire way to appeal to the broad majority of the Netflix audience.

The data on Shonda Rhimes

We used Affinio – the integrated audience strategy platform – to analyze the Netflix fan base and benchmark how well Rhimes’ shows perform with these fans, and whether Rhimes herself resonates as an interest.

Below is an audience visualization of the Netflix Twitter audience and how the audience segments into 20 interest-based communities. This visualization captures the diverse audiences Netflix attracts and can be used to inform the types and genres of content Netflix should be creating.

Affinio lets us identify the top 1000 contextually-relevant interests for each of these interest-based communities including brands, TV shows, celebrities, organizations and more. We looked at the top interests of each segment to see whether Shonda Rhimes, and her shows, appear.

Here’s a breakdown of some of Affinio’s key findings:

  • Shonda Rhimes appears as a relevant celebrity interest to 56% of the total Netflix audience.
  • Grey’s Anatomy appears as a relevant TV show interest to 43% of the total Netflix audience.
  • Scandal appears as a relevant TV show interest to 23% of the total Netflix audience.
  • How to Get Away with Murder appears as a relevant TV show interest to 19% of the total Netflix audience.

Interest data indicates that Shonda Rhimes and her shows have broad appeal and cater to a large portion of the Netflix audience. While Shonda herself appeals to over half of the total audience, it is worth noting that she appeared as a relevant interest in diverse segments such as Moms, Pop Culture, Comedy, Film Buffs, and more.

Netflix is making the right moves

Netflix is a data-driven company that bases their content recommendations on the interests of their audience, not their age or demographic. The data on Shonda Rhimes and her shows prove that they have been able to transcend multiple interest-groups with different demographics, successfully.

For Netflix, acquiring a show creator known for her wide appeal and popularity amongst their user base is a win-win. While the loss of Disney content was a disappointing announcement for Netflix viewers, the company understands their audience intimately and will be able to create new shows, with a Shonda spin, that excites viewers.

As long as advanced audience insights keep informing Netflix’s content strategy, the streaming giant will stay number one, even without Disney.

Welcome aboard, Shonda!


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