Photo courtesy Brian Cantoni
The seemingly endless stream of tiles and titles “Recommended for You” when you log into Netflix may soon be a thing of the past.
According to Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt, Netflix is going to be smarter about which titles to recommend, whittling down its “sea of tiles” to a handful of personalized recommendations to choose from.
In other words, navigating Netflix may start to feel more like navigating the rest of the internet via content discovery. The Netflix paradox — recommending so many titles at once as to make the task of choosing just one a vaguely stressful one — hints at a larger problem the rest of the Internet has been trying to solve for awhile now: the sheer volume of content that exists online currently overwhelms the means of discovering what’s personally salient or interesting.
Most media sites, including YouTube, now run some combination of content discovery platforms that intelligently surface a selection of content for users to engage with. In the early days of Netflix streaming, there simply wasn’t enough content on the platform to make to good use of extensive recommendation technology (and some would argue there still isn’t). Surfing Netflix was a bit like digging through a crate of old records; you knew 97% of it wasn’t for you, but the faintest possibility you might encounter one or two gems kept you digging.
But as each month brings new — and old — content to the platform, not to mention their incremental efforts in original programming, increased personalization is becoming a necessity.
Might the day arrive that Netflix just plays the perfect movie or TV show for you as soon as you login? Hunt finds that scenario both “somewhat realistic” and perhaps undesirable anyway. After all, digital platforms are at their best when they empower users to choose the experience they want to have, from skipping ads to selecting what to watch or read next.