Our Origin Story

A note from VOD Clickstream’s founder Stephen Follows on how the site came to be:

I have been a film data analyst for the past decade, mixing it with teaching and running a story agency. Over that time, I have published over 400 research projects, a number of major reports and the definitive answer to whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not.

I often talk with filmmakers and receive many requests a week for data or research. I estimate that VOD-based queries account for about half of all messages and conversations.

So you can imagine my excitement when I first learned of clickstream data back in 2016. I managed to make contact with clickstream data suppliers and suggested a project which used their tools to track SVOD viewership. Little did I know that it would be a four-year journey to bring it to the community.

When I initially sought to acquire the data, I was quoted upwards of $50,000 per month of data. That would have valued our current VOD Clickstream dataset at over $2 million. Given that my research is given away for free and I do not make a living from film data, needless to say, I had to pass.

I kept in touch with players in the data market until, last summer, there was a seismic shift in the clickstream industry. Coverage of privacy concerns delivered a serious blow to their business model (although not relevant in our dataset as there is no personal or private data). But still the price did not shift to a workable level. It was only early in 2020 that these suppliers were willing to flex.

So I got back in touch and secured the data. The original database was overwhelmingly large and included so much more than just people watching content. I needed help from someone who was used to making sense of big data and so recruited particle physicist Dr Jose Eliel Camargo-Molina.

Together we cleaned, organised and expanded the dataset. We added metadata on the titles, organised the time periods and turned it into a queryable dataset.

I believe in supporting the film community and in sharing insights freely whenever possible. That’s why membership is free and open to all.

As we launch the project to the public, we look forward to receiving your questions, insights and ideas to help us dig deeper into this unique and powerful dataset.

And in the long-term, we hope for a more open approach to data from the VOD platforms so that projects like this one are not needed. But, for now at least, long live the clickstream!

Stephen Follows
November 2020

What is VOD Clickstream?

Our unique clickstream data allows us to analyse viewing patterns on Netflix between January 2016 and June 2019.

This data has some powerful qualities and unusual limitations so be sure to check out the details here.

This is wholly independent research. We’re not affiliated with Netflix or any other streaming platform or studio.