Founder Michael Gaston said the company used online search data from Google not to greenlight the series itself but to discover the types of content that would be most relevant for its target audience.

“Data is both the most important thing and also not important at all,” he said. “Definitely leverage data, but don’t be a slave to it. Great storytelling is what always moves people the most.”

Gaston honed the craft of consumer data analysis for five years as a digital marketer at internet marketing company Stripes39 in Seattle.

Elsewhere, CBS Television’s on-demand streaming platform, CBS All Access, allows the firm to gain insights about viewing habits à la Netflix Inc., the company that changed the game when it comes to using data to inform content creation and distribution. CBS All Access has already reached 2 million subscribers and is on pace to reach 4 million by 2020, according to recent comments from CBS Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves.

But if other networks follow suit and launch their own platforms, they might make it more difficult for consumers to find their favorite shows, said Michael D. Smith, a professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.

“A centralized service, such as Hulu, provides the networks with a stronger way to compete with Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube, than what networks can get from individual OTT platforms,” he said.

Santa Monica’s Hulu, which was valued at $5.8 billion in August after Time Warner’s $583 million investment, also counts Walt Disney Co., NBCUniversal, and 20th Century Fox Film Corp. as financial backers. Smith said the subscription streaming service is underutilized by those studios, which use the platform to host their content.

“They’re not getting the data from Hulu they should be getting,” said Smith.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.