London Firm: What Netflix Tells Us About Democracy in Film


Netflix has undergone such rapid growth that its brand has become a household name, synonymous with streaming video and with 109 million worldwide subscribers. Its success proves that there is space for film and TV in the digital age. But some in the industry are worried that its power within the industry will be damaging to film-makers, dampen creativity and lead to a narrower range of output being produced.

Ashley Turing is the founder and CEO of LiveTree ADEPT, a London-based socially-conscious film and TV crowdfunding firm. Using a unique platform and its own cryptocurrency – LiveTree Seed (SED), Ashley and his team believe that they can put power back into the hands of consumers and creative film-makers. But why is the industry in need of revolution? Ashley Turing explains:

“Netflix is on virtually every device with a screen. It’s become a powerful force in modern culture. From an end-user perspective, Netflix provides a great service. But there’s a darker side to the Netflix phenomenon, namely its practice of using your data to maximise its profits.

“Next time you switch on Netflix, check out your ‘personalised content’ feed. This is compiled via algorithms similar to those used by Facebook’s newsfeed. It works like this: Netflix gathers data from its users’ viewing habits, which it then uses to rate everybody and everything involved in a production — actors, directors, set designers, even romance levels, plot conclusiveness and the ‘moral status’ of characters — to judge whether a piece of content is worthy of transmission. This user-data-based scoring system has a single objective: to maximise Netflix’s profits.

“I personally find this annoying — I seldom want to watch what Netflix has decided I should watch — but, more importantly, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous for creativity. It’s dangerous for consumers. And we need to rethink it.”