Netflix, on its surface, looks like it has no interest in anything but supplying subscribers with a whole lot of movies, TV shows, and whatever you’d call footage of people riding trains or building fires. The streaming video service, though, wants something more. It wants love.
A video from YouTube’s Thomas Flight details the many ways in which Netflix contorts its cold robot innards to suit what it thinks will make you like it more … and, of course, watch lots of the stuff they’ve gone to such lengths to make available.
A lot of what Flight talks about is the kind of thing most subscribers have guessed is going on behind the scenes of their profiles, but the extent to which the algorithms that power Netflix’s needy little heart work to personalize its selections goes further than most know.
We learn that the specific image thumbnails that accompany a movie or show are customized based on your viewing history and that even supposedly taste-agnostic sections like “Trending Now” are configured to reflect what a bunch of math says is your taste. Most eerily, it also tries to figure out if you’re in the middle of gunning through a new TV show’s season or just dipping in and out of occasional viewing, which hints at the wider behavioral patterns most modern companies are working to locate and exploit in their customers.
Though trying to win the world’s affection with continued Fuller Houseseasons may seem counter-intuitive, rest assured that Netflix is working its ass off to make you love it. We’re all slack-jawed rats in their experiments, courted endlessly with invisible trials that are as fascinating as they are mildly disconcerting to discover.