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Who watches what where?
January 9, 2010 10:28 AM   Subscribe


 
No one in Manhattan ever rented Paul Blart: Mall Cop, conversely nobody outside Manhattan and Brooklyn watches Mad Men. Quelle surprise. I think this could prove invaluable if you're about to move to a city and want to get a feel for an area before choosing where to live. Having never lived in San Francisco I flicked through its data, would I be right in assuming the northerly bit by the bridge is cooler/snootier than the southern Union City area?
posted by Damienmce at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2010


Now *that's a headline that got my attention. Not that the NYT would be interested in my queue.
posted by njbradburn at 10:38 AM on January 9, 2010


They're missing most of the metroplex in the Dallas map. Useless!
posted by cmoj at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2010


Hey, I watch Mad Men. you can try going across the bridge into berkeley if you wanna see some snoot.
posted by bam at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2010


This is the kind of awesome infocrunching that I like to see: completely useless, only seemingly informative, and ohso pretty.
Fascinating.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:48 AM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


In many areas with tech-savvy populations, torrenting probably skews this data.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:51 AM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


In Seattle, the maps for Frost/Nixon and Transformers are almost opposites. Not at all surprising, maybe, but this is another great mapping project from the Times.
posted by Forktine at 10:52 AM on January 9, 2010


...and in between shipments from Netflix, porn and more porn on the net
posted by Postroad at 10:55 AM on January 9, 2010


cmoj, you can drag the maps to see the surrounding area.

I wonder how many people with Netflix share a zip code with DFW airport. There were some anomalies there that must be due to a small sample size. I also noticed that one particular zip code in the Dallas area was disproportionately fond of W. I assume that's the neighborhood where Bush lives.
posted by des at 10:57 AM on January 9, 2010


This is fantastic. The Washington, D.C. map of Milk really shows the divisions within the metro area.
posted by gemmy at 10:58 AM on January 9, 2010


You have to blow through about thirty movies before you find one made by, for, and starring African-Americans. The pockets of viewers who've rated that film highly demographically line up with African-American communities. So, for instance, Seattle and Minneapolis are just completely gray. Which is sort of interesting. It would be really fascinating to cross this data with voting patterns, racial demographics, income levels, all kinds of things. Just glad that there is info out there at all - wish I could search my zip code and see what the highest/lowest rated movies are.
posted by billysumday at 10:58 AM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


While it does hit one of the top ten in one of the relevant zip codes, I'm surprised that Minneapolis is generally more interested in Mad Men than those who actually live on Madison Avenue.
posted by Weebot at 11:08 AM on January 9, 2010


In many areas with tech-savvy populations, torrenting probably skews this data.

Possibly, but my folks have Netflix yet watched The Wrestler on HBO. Also, tons of people who are not at all tech savy do have video on demand from their cable or satlite provider. So I shouldn't wonder if it evens out.
posted by Diablevert at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2010


you can drag the maps to see the surrounding area.

Useful!
posted by cmoj at 11:14 AM on January 9, 2010


Also: The sheer ubiquity of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is disheartening.
posted by Weebot at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is incredible.

Just one example of the fascinating patterns you can see in these visuals: the military clearly has its own idiosyncratic taste in movies. For example. take a look at the Washington, D.C. map for "Doubt:" they apparently don't like Meryl Streep at the Pentagon, Fort Meade, or Andrews AFB.
posted by killdevil at 11:20 AM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that Minneapolis is generally more interested in Mad Men than those who actually live on Madison Avenue.

I'm also surprised more people watched Beverly Hills, 90210 than live in that area code, too.

And why are all these non-mice watching Pinky and the Brain?

I kid, I kid. What makes a good show is not the setting or subject, it's the writing, cinematography(sometimes), and acting.
posted by chambers at 11:23 AM on January 9, 2010


Just one example of the fascinating patterns you can see in these visuals: the military clearly has its own idiosyncratic taste in movies. For example. take a look at the Washington, D.C. map for "Doubt:" they apparently don't like Meryl Streep at the Pentagon, Fort Meade, or Andrews AFB.

Yeah, I was wondering what was going on with 01731, in the Boston area, where they're indifferent to Slumdog Millionaire but love 'em some twilight and Dark Knight....thought it was maybe a college or something, but it turns out to be Hanscomb Air Force base. Who surprisingly don't favor Gran Turismo. It's actually kind of interesting to flick through and note the movies where that thumprint of a zipcode blends and the many where it sticks out (overall, the Boston area is red-orange on Milk; Hanscomb is white).
posted by Diablevert at 11:30 AM on January 9, 2010


Milk is #1 or #2 in much of San Francisco...except in the Castro. I guess everyone went to the premier or saw it in theaters.
posted by rtha at 11:36 AM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is not the differences that are interesting here -- they seem to be fairly minor, with just a few outliers with radically different tastes. No, it's the weird homogeneity that's interesting, where everyone seems to be renting the same new releases in lockstep.

I suspect that the data would be far more telling about cultural differences if it were possible to limit the data to movies released before 2008. I suspect that what "library" titles people are renting in each area would say far more about the taste and atmosphere of that area than this celebration of the national appetite for new releases.
posted by eschatfische at 11:38 AM on January 9, 2010


Southern MD and South East DC do seem to be entirely different from the rest of the metro area. I don't think it's entirely race, either.
posted by empath at 11:52 AM on January 9, 2010


I'd like to see a less urban-centric version of this.
posted by ropeladder at 12:07 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not surprised that there isn't much overlap between individuals who rent The Reader and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The degree to which this expands to a community wide level is pretty amazing.
posted by meinvt at 12:10 PM on January 9, 2010


It'd be nice to see a wider selection of flyover areas, don't you think? Still, I'd say it's useful for anyone traveling by car to know where, for instance, Fireproof is a huge deal. Find a way to hook this up to Google Maps and you'd have one hell of a popular app, all I'm saying.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:10 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Check out Chicago and zip code 60666, the zipcode around O'Hare. None of it's most rented movies are the same as the zip codes around it. Drag back in forth on the "frequently rented" bar if you want to make a "doesn't change" with it.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 12:15 PM on January 9, 2010


Wow, the Madea movies are really stark indicators in the DC area.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:20 PM on January 9, 2010


I also noticed that one particular zip code in the Dallas area was disproportionately fond of W. I assume that's the neighborhood where Bush lives.

No, he's further north (I know this because I know where he is relative to my in-laws, who are in 75230). I also have family on that side in Plano, and seeing the differences between the two zip codes is pretty interesting.
posted by immlass at 12:21 PM on January 9, 2010


It seems only hill-dwelling, coastal and arts district loft dwelling Los Angelenos watched Religilous. Quite the opposite with Transformers. Huh.
posted by eperker at 12:42 PM on January 9, 2010


The distributions for Milk and The Proposal are almost perfectly inverted. Somehow not surprising.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:01 PM on January 9, 2010


No one in Manhattan ever rented Paul Blart: Mall Cop

But look at Boston, and you'll notice a swath of red north of the city—right near where the movie was filmed, at the Burlington Mall.
posted by cribcage at 1:41 PM on January 9, 2010


I'm not surprised to see the correlation with race that billysumday mentioned. I live in Philadelphia, which is roughly 45% black, and the "local favorites" Netflix reports for Philly include lots of movies with mostly black casts. (I'm wishing there was a map for Philly in this data, but there isn't.)
posted by madcaptenor at 2:12 PM on January 9, 2010


W doesn't live anywhere near Plano. He is in Preston Hollow.
posted by shockingbluamp at 2:54 PM on January 9, 2010


shockingblueamp, 75230 isn't near Plano but it is just south of Preston Hollow, if I read the ZIP borders right. The hotspot for W the movie is 75223, which is south and west of 75230.
posted by immlass at 3:20 PM on January 9, 2010


Wow, Seattle is like ground zero for Pineapple Express (weed), W. (Bush-bashing), and Religulous (atheism). This city must make Baby Jesus and Michael Medved cry every day of the week.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:41 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also noticed that one particular zip code in the Dallas area was disproportionately fond of W. I assume that's the neighborhood where Bush lives.

As an aside, I would be surprised if W has a Netflix subscription. He probably does have whatever local provider's total package, including some kind of insider deal where he gets every single ppv channel open. Dude is probably watching hours and hours of TV daily now.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:45 PM on January 9, 2010


This is the kind of awesome infocrunching that I like to see: completely useless, only seemingly informative, and ohso pretty.
Fascinating.


I'd say that the list of areas where Paul Blart is the dominating rental should be vigorously avoided. That's useful, no?
posted by wet-raspberry at 4:45 PM on January 9, 2010


He probably does have whatever local provider's total package, including some kind of insider deal where he gets every single ppv channel open.

You know, I'll be 35 by 2012. Fuck it--I'm running for president.
posted by box at 5:07 PM on January 9, 2010


Rachel Getting Married is another one with very stark differences in rental patterns around the cities. It's a little less popular overall than Milk, too, so the contrasts seem even sharper.
posted by palliser at 6:00 PM on January 9, 2010


Well, Paul Blart is also available for watching instantly on your computer (well, maybe not YOUR computer...) so lots of people who would watch it without getting the US mail involved also don't show up on these maps.

I was almost one of those people tonight. But I chose to watch 1941 instead. Good God, that movie is bad. Is it possible that Spielberg just let the studio use his name to make their money back on a tone-deaf, unfunny comedy directed by a non-english-speaking hack?

(and in exchange, they returned his mother, unharmed?)
posted by mer2113 at 9:13 PM on January 9, 2010


The University of Washington in Seattle (98195, under "Union Bay Natural Area") ... a zip code containing exclusively students living in dorms.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:13 PM on January 9, 2010


qxntpqbbbqxl: yeah and it's skewed because everyone at the University of Washington (at least when I was there) used DC++ (Direct Connec) and pirated their movies.

This data can be incredibly useful for political campaigns (and any marketing campaign in general). You can use SVD or nearest-neighbor algorithms to test in a small sample, map the results to zipcode (e.g. one zipcode responds favorably to certain political positions). Correlate the results between zipcodes and movies. Any similar neighborhood in the entire country can be compared via most similar movie preferences (nearest-neighbor); they will likely respond similarly. I've heard rumors of political campaigns purchasing magazine subscription data in this fashion, but this Netflix data makes it dead easy and free. Some data suppliers are suddenly a lot less useful overnight, the release by Netflix is big news.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:47 PM on January 9, 2010


People in Manhattan really like woody allen, it seems.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 PM on January 9, 2010


not that anyone is reading blah blah blah

nobody outside Manhattan and Brooklyn watches Mad Men. Quelle surprise.

No--nobody outside Manhattan and Brooklyn uses Netflix to watch Mad Men. I TiVo Mad Men. Lots of people I know watch Mad Men when it airs, or on their TiVo, or on streaming websites.

Netflix statistics tell you who uses Netflix--nothing else.
posted by tzikeh at 10:47 PM on January 9, 2010


More people should watch Tyler Perry movies. They kick a lot of ass. If you need personal recommendations, let me know.
posted by kathrineg at 1:51 AM on January 10, 2010


Netflix statistics tell you who uses Netflix--nothing else.

Interesting idea. Netflix customers are a completely unique demographic?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:01 AM on January 10, 2010


Census data only tells you about people who answer censuses--nothing else.
posted by Damienmce at 2:31 AM on January 10, 2010


i analyzed the data of zips in the DC in which at least one nationwide top ten rental fell outside of a zip's top 50. here are my results.
posted by Primofex at 8:20 AM on January 10, 2010


Man, this is too much. So I moved across the country a few months ago, from NYC to SF.

Here are the most popular rentals for my old neighborhood, the East Village :

1. Rachel Getting Married
2. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
3. Milk
4. Doubt
5. The Wrestler
6. Burn After Reading
7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
8. Slumdog Millionaire
9. Revolutionary Road
10. Mad Men

And here are the most popular rentals for my new neighborhood, the Mission :

1. Rachel Getting Married
2. Milk
3. The Wrestler
4. Burn Before Reading
5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
6. Doubt
7. Slumdog Millionaire
8. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
9. The Changeling
10. Revolutionary Road

I mean, that's just crazy. The choice of movies is 90% similar.

Somebody should take this data and make a widget that tells you about other US neighborhoods you'd enjoy living in based on movie choice.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2010


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