April 13, 2012

Why Netflix Never Implemented the Algorithm That Won the Netflix $1 Million Challenge


“when people rent a movie that won’t arrive for a few days, they’re making a bet on what they want at some future point. And, people tend to have a more… optimistic viewpoint of their future selves. That is, they may be willing to rent, say, an “artsy” movie that won’t show up for a few days, feeling that they’ll be in the mood to watch it a few days (weeks?) in the future, knowing they’re not in the mood immediately. But when the choice is immediate, they deal with their present selves, and that choice can be quite different.”

In other words, future-you might like a Ken Burns documentary, but today-you wants an Adam Sandler flick. The winning algorithm helped make better picks for future-you who watches DVDs, not today-you who has streaming access to the Netflix library.

The article is a five-minute read and provides interesting details about how Netflix came to their decision not to implement the winning algorithm.