Sunday, May 26, 2013

Netflix bias

I was going to write a post about how disappointed I am that Netflix recommendations for me always include Netflix Original Series. I used to trust Netflix to recommend to me titles I would like, based on my own taste in movies. Netflix usually predicts pretty closely what I'm going to like, so much that my star rating is almost always identical to the predicted star rating.

 But, now that Arrested Development Season 4 is on Netflix, I can't look at without being reminded to watch it. It is a Netflix Original Series, and they predict I'll love it. This made me suspicious that maybe their recommendations are biased in favor of their own content.

Well, maybe to begin with. I used to be confronted with an ad for Hemlock Grove every time I opened However, they predicted I would give Hemlock Grove only two stars, even though it's a Netflix Original Series. So is it OK to trust Netflix?


  1. I saw Xavier Amatriain, Netflix Research/Engineering Director talk a few weeks ago and he answered this question. He said Netflix doesn't care enough about whether you watch its productions to do this. He says Netflix cares about only one thing in recommending movies: retaining customers. I find that believable - Remember, Netflix gets paid the same if you watch Arrested Development as if you watch something else.

    So if recommending Arrested Development instead of something else would make you less likely to quit the service, Netflix will recommend it, and if not, it won't.

    Netflix decides to produce a show based on whether it believes it can retain more customers per dollar spent than by buying a show someone else produced, but after the show is in the can, there's no point in getting people to watch it unless they'll actually like it.

  2. I'm sorry it took me so long to approve your comment. I appreciate your remarks.