What's the most important thing Netflix owns? Perhaps the licenses to the many movies it streams? Or maybe the rights to original programming and Kevin Spacey's face? Actually, it's the data produced by subscribers while watching.
Along with collecting basic data from subscribers (e.g., the shows they watch, at what time, and for how long), Netflix pinpoints when you pause, rewind, or stop watching something in an attempt to figure out why. This data on its own isn't all that useful, but when cross-referenced with basic geographical information and the same data produced by the other 70 million odd Netflix subscribers, it can be used to produce comprehensive charts detailing exactly what people watch. Netflix sadly keeps this data to itself so we'll never know just how many people stop watching Adam Sandler movies the second Kevin James turns up.
Along with helping Netflix decide what to purge from its library, the data is an invaluable tool for Netflix when it produces original content, allowing the service to confidently predict exactly how many people will watch a particular original program and set an appropriate budget. So remember, the next time you press pause, you're holding the fate of Francis Underwood in your hands.