If you use Netflix, you’ve probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it’s absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?
If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of “personalized genres” need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?
This idle wonder turned to rabid fascination when I realized that I could capture each and every microgenre that Netflix’s algorithm has ever created.
Through a combination of elbow grease and spam-level repetition, we discovered that Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies…
…What emerged from the work is this conclusion: Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.
Television is television, no matter what pipe brings it to the screen.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, as quoted in the New York Times last week. The company, which earned 14 Emmy nominations for its original content (including “Arrested Development,” “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Hemlock Grove”), seems to have a firm grasp on what television will be like in the future.
Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, released a letter to the investors for Q2, and revealed:
Beyond series, we will be expanding our Originals initiative to include broadly appealing feature documentaries and stand-up comedy specials. Netflix has become a big destination for fans of these much loved and often under-distributed genres.
The reason that incumbents can’t react is that their revenue and defensibility are continued by serving the high-end of the market for which it would take too much time & money for any competitors to effectively challenge. In Netflix’s case this is their DVD distribution business. It’s hard to imagine somebody else being able to effectively compete with that.
But the real threat comes from the change in technologies that rule the old business obsolete. Streaming. It’s clear that in the future movies & TV will be delivered to our homes from the cloud. Indeed for many this is already the case.
To win the future he needs to attack his core assets by building new ones. Very few companies ever do this.