How Netflix Could Use Recommendations To Increase Subscriptions

One of the challenges of highly customer-driven systems like the iPod, Tivo, and Netflix is the keeping it fresh. I wrote about my experience with this problem last fall (New, Unexpected Music on Your iPod).

I’m sensing the same “2,000 songs and nothing’s on” wall with Netflix. Sure, there are 50 discs in our queue right now. But that’s down from nearly 80 a few months ago. This means, we’re adding movies at a slower frequency. Though we’re watching them at about the same frequency.

To add to this, the only reason I visit the Netflix.com is to add an item to my queue. I get the queue as an RSS feed and my ratings are posted via email. I never checkout their recommendations

This is a recipe for burnout.

Tivo solved this problem by developing recommendation engine that records things it thinks you’ll like. Though Netflix also offers recommendations, it doesn’t go the extra step – sending me the disc.

Since Netflix makes the bulk of their revenue on a tiered subscription model, the discs in each of their tiers could default to a ‘Netflix Suggestion’ with additional membership dollars going to override their recommendation engine with a something I’ve selected. The upshot is, of my 3-at-a-time subscription – 1 or more of them could be selected and delivered by Netflix – thereby guaranteeing new stuff is always in the queue.

3 Replies to “How Netflix Could Use Recommendations To Increase Subscriptions”

  1. If the only reason you visit the Netflix site is to add items to your queue, give my new Netflix queue manager a try. It’s called FlixQueue, is much easier to use than the Netflix site, and some of our near future addons will show you a list of movies you will probably like, with a simple one button press to add them to your queue. We are also developing a new feature exactly like you speak of, that will take random recommendations and add them to the top of your queue.

    Come try it for free at http://www.5hyphen.com/FlixQueue/index.htm.

  2. As a happy Netflix customer, and one who uses Watch Instantly through my Xbox 360 regularly, I agree Garrick that Netflix could simply provide me the movies directly, especially through Watch Instantly which doesn’t cost money to distribute the title. I could vote whether the suggestion was good, and prune from there. Of course the Watch Instantly library is much smaller and I don’t like a huge majority of the titles, so mailing them out would probably work better. It certainly is an interesting model, save customers from adding a movie to their queue we (Netflix) were 96% sure they were going to add anyway. 🙂

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