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Amazon may have 'Alpha House,' but Netflix has the data

John Goodman in Amazon's 'Alpha House.'

Amazon is debuting a show called "Alpha House" today -- the internet giant’s first big foray into original programming. It’s also a bid to compete with larger rival Netflix, which has seen lots of success with shows like "House of Cards."

But the competition might hinge on who has the most data. By one estimate, Amazon has about 2 percent of the streaming video market. Netflix has about a third. And that gives Netflix way more data, said Brad Adgate, an analyst with Horizon Media.

"They strategically take this data to make their next programming choices whether it’s original series or an acquired series," Adgate says.

The popularity of the original British "House of Cards," Adgate says, was one of the reasons the modern series was green-lighted.  

Amazon has had to take more traditional approach -- one that relies on a mix of crowd-sourcing and old-fashioned gut instinct. For all of the hype around big data, it’s not a clear win in this more artistic endeavor, says Jim Nail, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"I may be a little old fashioned in this, but I do belive that not everything in the human condition can be reduced to numbers," he said.  

Nail also said Amazon has less at stake with the release. While streaming video is Netflix’s bread-and-butter,  Amazon considers it an extra perk in its bid to win customer loyalty. 

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.
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