How Netflix Uses Analytics To Select Movies, Create Content, And Know What You Want To Watch Next.

In 2006 Netflix announced the Netflix Prize, a competition for creating an algorithm that would “substantially improve the accuracy of predictions about how much someone is going to enjoy a movie based on their movie preferences.” There was a winner, which improved the algorithm by 10%. However, Netflix never did implement the algorithm, saying:

“We evaluated some of the new methods offline but the additional accuracy gains that we measured did not seem to justify the engineering effort needed to bring them into a production environment.”

But Netflix didn’t shun all algorithm and data efforts.

To the uninitiated, it may seem that Netflix’s analytics go only as far as views. They may also think that the show House of Cards was chosen because Netflix “thought subscribers might like it.” But the truth is much, much deeper. The $100 million show wasn’t green-lighted solely because it seemed like a good plot. The decision was based on a number of factors and seemingly almost entirely on data.

The reality is that Netflix is a data-driven company. Saying that Netflix chooses new content based on “whoever they can get a license with” is a very thin and vague statement. Netflix does need licenses from studios, but they don’t just pick movies and television shows at random.

Read on to learn more about the future of television programming and how analytics is helping Netflix become a better business and service.

Analytics at Netflix

The core job of analytics is to help companies gain insight into their customers. Then, the companies can optimize their marketing and deliver a better product. (Without analytics, companies are in the dark about their customers.) Analytics gives businesses the quantitative data they need to make better, more informed decisions and improve their services.

So how does Netflix use analytics?

“There are 33 million different versions of Netflix.”

– Joris Evers, Director of Global Communications

As of July 2018, Netflix has 130 million worldwide streaming subscribers. Having this large user base allows Netflix to gather a tremendous amount of data. With this data, Netflix can make better decisions and ultimately make users happier with their service.

Traditional television networks don’t have these kinds of privileges in their broadcasting. Ratings are just approximations, green-lighting a pilot is based on tradition and intuition. Netflix has the advantage, because being an internet company allows Netflix to know their customers well, not just have a “persona” or “idea” of what their average customer is like. Let’s look at an example.

If you’re watching a series like Arrested Development, Netflix is able to see (on a large scale) the “completion rate” (for lack of a better term) of users. For example, the people at Netflix could ask themselves “How many users who started Arrested Development (from season 1) finished it to the end of season 3?” Then they get an answer. Let’s say it’s 70%.

Then they ask “Where was the common cut off point for users? What did the other 30% of users do? How big of a ‘time gap’ was there between when consumers watched one episode and when they watched the next? We need to get a good idea of the overall engagement of this show.”

They then gather this data and see user trends to understand engagement at a deep level. If Netflix saw that 70% of users watched all seasons available of a cancelled show, that may provoke some interest in restarting Arrested Development. They know there’s a good chance users will watch the new season.

But the data gets deeper than that. Here’s a look at some of the “events” Netflix tracks:

  • When you pause, rewind, or fast forward
  • What day you watch content (Netflix has found people watch TV shows during the week and movies during the weekend.)
  • The date you watch
  • What time you watch content
  • Where you watch (zip code)
  • What device you use to watch (Do you like to use your tablet for TV shows and your Roku for movies? Do people access the Just for Kids feature more on their iPads, etc.?)
  • When you pause and leave content (and if you ever come back)
  • The ratings given (about 4 million per day)
  • Searches (about 3 million per day)
  • Browsing and scrolling behavior
  • Netflix also looks at data within movies. They take various “screen shots” to look at “in the moment” characteristics. Netflix has confirmed they know when the credits start rolling; but there’s far more to it than just that. Some have figured these characteristics may be the volume, colors, and scenery that help Netflix find out what users like.

Why does Netflix want to know when the credits roll? They probably want to see what users do afterward. Do they leave the app or go back to browsing? Notice how Netflix now offers movie recommendations (they have personalization algorithms that aim to accurately predict what users will watch next) soon after credits start (or, for television shows, they automatically play the next episode).

Because if users leave the app after watching a show, that may mean they are more likely to cancel. Allow me to explain:

Through their analytics, Netflix may know how much content users need to watch in order to be less likely to cancel. For instance, maybe they know “If we can get each user to watch at least 15 hours of content each month, they are 75% less likely to cancel. If they drop below 5 hours, there is a 95% chance they will cancel.”

So now that they have this data, they can ask themselves “How do we help users watch at least 15 hours of content per month?” One idea: enable post-play, which automatically plays the next episode of a TV show unless the user opts out. For movies, show movie suggestions (based on the rating of the movie just watched) right after the credits start rolling and allow users to press play right from that screen. Netflix can add this feature to their web and mobile apps and, again, through analytics, see the results.

This is only a theory of how Netflix came to the decision to implement post-play and an example of how analytics can help Netflix make decisions. I don’t have any inside information.

So all of this data and the large user base allow Netflix to quickly see trends and formulate opinions. Later, we’ll get into the factors that made them green-light House of Cards.

The Recommendation Algorithm

As part of the on-boarding process, Netflix asks new users to rate their interest in movie genres and rate any movies they’ve already seen. Why do they do this right up front? Because helping users discover new movies and TV shows they’ll enjoy is integral to Netflix’s success.

If people run out of movies they want to watch and have no way to find new movies, they’ll cancel. It’s important that Netflix puts a lot of focus on making sure they have an accurate algorithm for this rather than having users rely on outside sources to find new movies.

Is the recommendation algorithm accurate and successful?

Since 75% of viewer activity is based on these suggestions, I’d say it works pretty well for them.

But now that more users are moving to streaming, what they actually watch is more important than ratings. When it was DVD-by-mail, Netflix users had to wait, and the rating was a “thought process.” Netflix engineers Xavier Amatriain and Carlos Gomez-Uribe explain:

Amatriain:

“When we were a DVD-by-mail company and people gave us a rating, they were expressing a thought process. You added something to your queue because you wanted to watch it a few days later; there was a cost in your decision and a delayed reward. With instant streaming, you start playing something, you don’t like it, you just switch. Users don’t really perceive the benefit of giving explicit feedback, so they invest less effort.”

Gomez-Uribe:

“Testing has shown that the predicted ratings aren’t actually super-useful, while what you’re actually playing is. We’re going from focusing exclusively on ratings and rating predictions to depending on a more complex ecosystem of algorithms.”

As we can see, the algorithm is evolving. There are entire teams (Netflix has over 800 developers in total) working on it. It’s not static because user behavior and the Netflix product are changing.

The New Thumbs Up/Down Rating System

In April 2017, Netflix debuted a new rating system. Previously, users would rate movies and TV shows on 1-5 stars. But after their product teams ran some tests, they found a new, simpler “thumbs up-thumbs down” test beat the original star-based rating system. In their Q1 2017 Letter to Shareholders, Netflix wrote:

As always, our product team has dozens of tests running in the endless quest for even higher member satisfaction. One test that won conclusively last year and has now been rolled out to all members is our new “thumbs-up thumbs-down” feedback model, replacing the 5-star model we have had from our DVD days. The amount of usage we get with this new approach is over twice as many ratings. With this additional personal input, we’ll be able to improve personalization, making your front screen on Netflix even more relevant.

How Big Data Factored into House of Cards

In 2011 Netflix made one of the biggest decisions they’ll ever make. It wasn’t anything material, but rather it was about content. They outbid top television channels like HBO and AMC to earn the rights for a U.S. version of House of Cards, giving them 2 seasons with 13 episodes in each season.

At a cost of $4 million to $6 million an episode, this 2-season price tag is over $100 million. Netflix has undoubtedly made other big money investments before (shipping centers, postage costs, etc.), but nothing like this on the content side. So why did they make such a big bet, and how did analytics factor into the decision? Let’s get into it.

Pre-Green-light

Before green-lighting House of Cards, Netflix knew:

  • A lot of users watched the David Fincher directed movie The Social Network from beginning to end.
  • The British version of “House of Cards” has been well watched.
  • Those who watched the British version “House of Cards” also watched Kevin Spacey films and/or films directed by David Fincher.

Each of these 3 synergistic factors had to contain a certain volume of users. Otherwise, House of Cards might belong to a different network right now. Netflix had a lot of users in all 3 factors.

This combination of factors had a lot of weight in Netflix’s decision to make the $100 million investment in creating a U.S. version of House of Cards. Jonathan Friedland, Chief Communications Officer, says “Because we have a direct relationship with consumers, we know what people like to watch and that helps us understand how big the interest is going to be for a given show. It gave us some confidence that we could find an audience for a show like House of Cards.”

In an interview with Gigaom, Steve Swasey, VP of Corporate Communications, expands:

“We have a high degree of confidence in [House of Cards] based on the director, the producer and the stars…. We don’t have to spend millions to get people to tune into this. Through our algorithms, we can determine who might be interested in Kevin Spacey or political drama and say to them ‘You might want to watch this.’”

Swasey says it’s not just the cast and director that predict whether the show will be a success. “We can look at consumer data and see what the appeal is for the director, for the stars, and for similar dramas,” he says. Add this to the fact that the British version of House of Cards has been a popular DVD pick for subscribers. Combining these factors (and the popularity of political thrillers) makes it seem like an easy decision for Netflix to make. The only question was how much they were willing to invest. We’ll get into the early ROI numbers a little later.

After the Green Light

Now that Netflix has made the $100 million investment, they are in part responsible for promoting it. And with the data they have, they can make a “personalized trailer” for each type of Netflix member, not a “one size fits all” trailer. Let me explain…

Before a movie is released or TV show premiers, there’s typically one or a few trailers made and a few previews selected. Netflix made 10 different cuts of the trailer for House of Cards, each geared toward different audiences. The trailer you saw was based on your previous viewing behavior. If you watched a lot of Kevin Spacey films, you saw a trailer featuring him. Those who watched a lot of movies starring females saw a trailer featuring the women in the show. And David Fincher fans saw a trailer featuring his touch.

So now that the first season has run, let’s look at some of the early metrics. These won’t determine immediately whether the House of Cards investment can be considered successful, but rather the trajectory that it’s on.

What do you think the average success rate is for new TV shows? In other words, if a television network green lights a new TV show, what are the chances it will be profitable or won’t be cancelled after a couple of seasons?

Your guess?

The answer is 35%, on average.

When a network green lights a show, there’s a 35% chance it succeeds and a 65% chance it gets cancelled. At the time of this writing, Netflix has 7 TV shows, of which 5 have been renewed for another season. If this rate can continue for years, the Netflix success rate will be about 70%.

So why does Netflix renew shows at a higher rate than conventional television networks? Does the data make the difference? Is the success rate legitimate or can you not compare an Internet television network to conventional TV networks?

Has House of Cards been a success? It has brought in 2 million new U.S. subscribers in the first quarter of 2013, which was a 7% increase over the previous quarter. It also brought in 1 million new subscribers from elsewhere in the world. According to The Atlantic Wire, these 3 million subscribers almost paid Netflix back for the cost of House of Cards.

And what about current subscribers? Does having House of Cards make them less likely to cancel their subscription?

Yes, for 86% of them.

A survey showed that 86% of subscribers are less likely to cancel because of House of Cards but only if Netflix stays at the $7.99 price point. While this may seem impressive, you should take this survey with a grain of salt. As the author points out:

“The sample size is small. Only 346 of the 1,229 U.S. consumers surveyed on February 12-13, 2013 are Netflix customers, although another 223 are classified as non-subscribers who have access to a Netflix subscription. About 10% of subscribers and those with access to Netflix viewed at least one episode of House Of Cards in the first 12 days after it became available. The average person who tuned in watched six episodes over that period, but 19.4% watched all 13.”

What can be safe to say is that House of Cards gives all Netflix subscribers one less reason to cancel. How big or how small the reason is arbitrary.

Orange is the New Black

Weeds was a pretty popular show on Showtime. It also has been streaming on Netflix for quite some time and has been one of their most viewed shows, according to their “Popular on Netflix” section. So when creator Jenji Kohan had the idea for a new TV show, Netflix knew they had to jump in. To be able to get a series with the popularity and quality of Weeds would be a big hit, especially in a lineup next to House of Cards. Early metrics show that Orange is the New Black is getting off to a more successful start than Arrested Development and even House of Cards.

Blog by Julez for Styles Rebel Radio

Five Actors/Actresses That We Think Should Reprise Their Roles

Five Actors/Actresses and their characters that deserve a second chance.

1.) Tim Allen // The Santa Clause Series

Although he did get an entire trilogy as the iconic character I feel after The Escape Clause (2006) Allen left audiances across America wanting more of the great Scott Calvin we know and love. I think a reboot of the franchise a-la Star Wars: The Force Awakens would do gangbusters at the box office. Imagine a scene reminiscent of the final scene in SW:TFO where Rey finds Luke on Ahch-To and attempts to return him his saber, except instead of Rey it’s Bernard and instead of Luke it’s SCOTT CALVIN/SANTA CLAUSE. Could be dope, just saying.

2.) Betty White // Golden Girls

Imagine, The Golden Girls Movie gets announced, America is in an uproar and we as a nation are on the edge of our seats. Open the trailer and come to find it’s an all out action movie in the vein of a John Wick. Betty White (Rose) tracking down the killers of Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia and getting the revenge she so rightfully deserves. Again, could be cool.

3.) Lefty // Hamburger Helper Commercials

While his products remain a suburban dinner-time staple Lefty hasn’t been in the public eye for over eight years with his last commercial airing in 2013. I Think after all the Right has done to America, we could use a little Lefty in our lives. *Bu Dum Tiss*

4.) Genghis Khan // Mongolian Empire

My only comment will be this; Was he a Warlord, yes. But dude got shit done. Literally just the biggest Chad the world has ever seen and I think as a planet we could use another Genghis Khan/Mongolian Empire.

5.) Jesus // Reality

I think his first run in the titular role was short lived and too shrouded in mystery for modern audiences to truly enjoy. A return to this character would do wonders for modern day fans and leave skeptics baffled for years to come.

4 Halloween Movies that are Icons of their Industry.

Halloween Movies: What Makes them good?

Best Halloween Movies
Best Halloween Movies

What exactly makes a film “the best Halloween movie?” Is there really such a thing? Is it a specific genre? Is it any different than a scary horror film?

All scary and horror films have to be scary in some way. The problem is, if a film is scary, the audience will expect it to be scary for different reasons. Most films are not actually scary, but a combination of horror elements and scary ones. But, many movies are pure horror and are just made to frighten and scare.

Halloween Movies: Exorcist and Original Halloween Movie

A good example is The Exorcist, the first movie to really popularize the concept of a pure horror film. In this movie, the first two-thirds are pure horror, where you can practically hear the demons screaming in pain as they destroy the people and things around them.

The second two-thirds or so are actually very serious and the main character becomes an angel of mercy. However, the movie is still a pure horror movie. You can’t really see the characters suffer. The end of the film is the worst of both worlds.

Another good example is Halloween, the classic. The original film is one of the best horror films ever made. It doesn’t matter whether you were a child or a teenager, Halloween is still a timeless classic.

The original film and other versions of Halloween have a lot more humor than the other movies of its type. Even in today’s modern horror film industry, Halloween is one of the funniest films. If you look at some of today’s films, they don’t have any real humor, which is why they can be so horrifically scary. If a horror film is just pure terror without humor, it can be extremely violent and disturbing. With all the humor present, the audience doesn’t have to feel that they are being attacked as much.

Halloween Movies: The different Types

Best Halloween Movies
Best Halloween Movies

A movie can be fun, as well. But, if it has too much gore or blood or involves a lot of violence, then it would be considered a comedy. There are horror films that are funny.

So, when looking for the scariest movies of all time, keep in mind what it is you’re looking for. If it’s just pure horror, then a pure horror film, a horror film, or a pure horror-comedy, chances are it will be scarier than most of the other kinds of movies on this list.

Some of the scariest movies I’ve seen were the ones where the antagonist or monsters are quite evil. That’s a scary film because it lets the viewer know that things aren’t going to be easy. And if things were that easy, then there wouldn’t be any suspense in the movies at all.

Halloween Movies: Psycho and The Shining

video belongs to WB studios and YouTube Credit goes to them

Of course, the best movies of all time are ones like Halloween and Psycho. They are scary because they put us in danger. The audience always knows that something terrible is about to happen. Even if it’s just a random walk through the woods or just an encounter with a stranger, the audience always feels like they have a sense of danger. These are the scariest movies because they have the audience feeling helpless.

Best Halloween Movies
Best Halloween Movies

Another good movie is The Shining. Although it was a famous movie, it’s not that well known but it is still considered one of the scariest movies of all time.

Halloween Movies: Conclusion

Best Halloween Movies
Best Halloween Movies

But, it’s one of the scariest for the wrong reasons. People thought Jack Nicholson was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life because of a scene that they shot. But, in the end, he was the same guy who walked around with a cane. This movie made it into the Halloween hall of fame and made Jack Nicholson one of the most iconic faces of Halloween.

A classic, a great, frightening, and fun-filled Halloween movie is the kind of thing that everyone can enjoy. There are other movies out there but these are the best of all time.

Blog By Half Point for StylesRebelRadio.com

our Facebook and Twitter for more info

I Lost My Job Over Salt

I remember it like it was yesterday, I was working as an assistant to the owner of a multimillion dollar enterprise. I was in charge of keeping the house in order, providing council, and most importantly I was entrusted with keeping some of the biggest secrets not only in the company but the city as well. As a very highly respected and beloved member of the community my boss Bruce depended on me in order help keep his affairs in order for his day to day life. This wasn’t any ordinary job for me, I wasn’t simply a housekeeper or a live in, this was my life’s work.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

It was crisp fall evening when I brought in the abnormally large stack of mail from the box. As I handed it off to my boss I awaited for him to return the letters he had deemed important to file away. He opened up an envelope embroidered in elaborate detail including a golden seal completing the ensemble. When he had finished reading the letter, he glanced up at me and cracked a coy smile. Informing me he had been invited to an elegant dinner tonight courtesy of some of the town’s highest entrepreneurs, he handed me the paper and retreated to his quarters to get ready. When he emerged from his room, he suddenly halted in his tracks. Looking directly at me in confused manner, Bruce exclaimed, “Well what are you waiting for we have to get going!” Unbenounced to me, he had expected me to join him on this outing. Quicky I raced to my room and threw on my best suit before joining my boss in the car.

Photo by Vlad Alexandru Popa on Pexels.com

Arriving at the restaurant, we took our seats across the table from one another as the waitress began to take drink orders. We sat among some of the most powerful men in the entire city. I listened intently as my boss discussed business strategy and marketing techniques to his fellow entrepreneurs. As our drinks arrived the conversation swelled. An hour had passed seamlessly as our food began to arrive. Conversation ceased as we all began to indulge in the five star meal we had received. A phenomenal blend of seafood and pasta the flavor was exquisite, except for one thing. It needed salt. I glanced over the table to find the salt shaker sitting just right of my boss Bruce on the other side of the table.Slowly my nerves began to build as I did not want to speak out of turn and offset the wondrous evening. Composing myself I had finally worked up enough courage inside to ask for the salt. Slowly setting down my fork I uttered the words that would ultimately haunt me for the rest of my life. Over the silent table full of the most powerful men in town I calmly muttered, “Batman, could you pass the salt?” Everyone’s utensils dropped and mouths fell agape in awe. The most important secret I have ever been in charge of keeping was out. Bruce Wayne quickly got up and made a B-line for his car.

Sick Chirpse

Two weeks later after having no contact I receive my termination letter in the mailbox of my decrepit hotel room located underneath the highway to the airport. Last I heard, he had hired some guy named Alfred to take my place.

-Style

Why Bringing your own Snacks in the movies is worth it!

You just sit down to watch the blockbuster of the year. Then all of a sudden your stomach is rumbling. So you go to the snack shop only to see they want 12.00$ for popcorn!!!. Today we’re gonna talk about how to get good snacks for a low prices.

The Dollar Tree is your friend. Wether it’s snacks or drinks they have everything you need for you’re movie theater run. So make sure you stop on the way.

The old put it in the purse trick. Most men don’t carry purses so here is a good way to not only get a snack but get a date.Then have her put your snacks in her purse. So you won’t get caught.

Finally my favorite most creative way to sneak in snacks is the “fat guy” method you grab a giant bowl fill it full of snacks. Then duck tape the bowl to your stomach to make you look big. So when you walk into the movie theater you won’t get caught.

These are some of the ways to sneak in more cheaper snacks and a spot we’re to find some good deals on snacks. Comment some of your tricks to sneak in snacks at the movies. We loved to know!!!!

Blog done by Half Point for StylesRebelRadio.com