The Algorithm of Bingeing

As established in last week’s blog, Netflix is – in a manner of speaking – crushing it. Not only is Netflix the most trusted in Australia, it’s also the most-loved brand in the U.K.

The success of the beloved brand rests largely on its algorithms. In what turned out to be more of a PR move than a profitable business move, Netflix held a competition for users to design the best algorithm for its platform. The prize? $1 million USD. (No big deal. Just some walking around money.)

Netflix announced the competition in 2006, and awarded the grand prize in 2009. Consequently, the winning algorithm was already stale when it came time to implement. In the intervening years, the brand had shifted its focus and algorithms to its streaming platform, where it created the “binge” effect.

Why Netflix’s Algorithm Is So Binge-Worthy | Mach | NBC News

Every Netflix user knows that an algorithm provides recommendations based on viewing preferences. But the reality is, everything the user sees on the screen – from category order to artwork – is tailored to keep them bingeing.

Netflix’s methods are so effective , the algorithm-generated recommendations are responsible for 80% of the TV shows users stream. Netflix’s algorithm has even created a new bingeing beast. It has taken users from binge watchers to binge racers.

Binge racing is the term used when people watch a show’s entire season in less than 24 hours. According to Netflix, more than 8.4 million subscribers are binge racers. And thanks to their algorithm, as soon as a racer finishes bingeing one show, there’s another perfectly tailored recommendation waiting for them. After coming up for air and – hopefully – a shower, it’s on to the next show. And the next. And the next.

Infographic by Netflix

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