Netflix: Lost in the winter wonderland

25Dec09

Recently, I tried to locate some good winter movies. You know, the kind that are typically set during the holidays and feature a steady helping of snowfall and wintery adventures (or misadventures, as the case may be). Well, I went to Netflix and tried a bunch of different searches. For instance, I typed in phrases like:

– “winter movies”
– “Christmas movies”
– “movies set in winter”

And so on. However, not a single search produced any useful results. For all their talk about making the recommendation system better, and all the weird “Taste Preferences” that Netflix says I have, they never thought to tag certain movies based on the obvious traits of “good for the winter” or “set during the holidays”.

I don’t know if the type of filtering or tagging that I described makes sense on a year-round basis. Maybe customers are more likely to be looking for actors named “Winter,” rather than movies set during that season. But it certainly seems like there’s a time of year when seasonal or other descriptive attributes deserve a greater role in the Netflix search algorithm. I know the people at Netflix love to run tests, so I’d be very curious to see if this approach helps generate more interest in winter movies that would otherwise go unrented for years.



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