This topic was decided upon stemming from the thought, “why is so much good content being produced on Netflix?”. Some of my favourite shows in recent years have been Netflix original productions (House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black), or Amazon original productions like Transparent. Shows like these have and continue to dominate prestigious Hollywood awards seasons, winning Emmy’s and Golden Globes year after year. The amount of VoD services that have original productions nominated and critically acclaimed grows every year. So clearly, my previously mentioned thought, has some validity to it, despite the fact that the term ‘good’ relative to content can be incredibly subjective.
I have realised that I’ve failed to mention that I intend on presenting my final project in the form of a research report. Therefore, I have also realised that I need to get crackin on a literature review. Luckily for me, I have come across an academic thesis written by Henry Zhu Tang in 2014, ‘The Collaborative Filtering Effect of Netflix Ratings for Indie Films versus Blockbusters and Heavy Users versus Casual Users’. This source is incredibly valuable to me as it incorporates many of the themes I discussed (and intend to expand on) in my previous blog post. Tang writes about the way Netflix uses recommendation algorithms to assist it’s users in finding content they presumably would be interested in and how this correlates to the type of content Netflix chooses to buy and also fund production of. Before reading this, I wasn’t even entirely aware of this connection. Everyone knows about the recommendation algorithms, love them or hate them, if you use the service, you are subjected to them. Personally, I don’t know where I stand on the privacy issue of Netflix knowing intricate details about my personality based on my TV and movie taste, but I do like a good recommendation. I hadn’t thought deep enough about the connection to how they utilise the recommendation algorithm for the type and quality content they offer. As it turns out, Netflix started out in 1997 as a service dedicated to providing more alternative content:
“In 1997, Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph founded Netflix, an online DVD-by-mail retailer that usurped the traditional brick-and-mortar model. At once, a wider library of titles had become available to consumers than ever before. Netflix introduced a proprietary recommendation system, powered by a collaborative filtering algorithm, to select movies to watch for its customers, a feature it continues to use for its global video streaming service today. This collaborative filtering algorithm would further highlight indie or niche films that could not be found (or were prohibitively difficult to find) in stores.”
Many of the ideas Tang writes about are connected to 4 of my 5 main talking points so far:
- Content with better diversity.
2. Creators having more freedom around the production of content.
3. VoD services content favouring audience viewing habits.
4. Netflix buying up the rights to more low budget, yet ‘prestigious’ films at Sundance.
Due to how supportive this thesis is to my talking points for my report, I will likely go ahead and rely heavily on it throughout.