Photo courtesy of netflix
By all accounts, Netflix won 2013. Not only did the video-streaming service top 40 million customers worldwide, but thanks to its hit shows Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, it also became a bona-fide network, easily making the once struggling company a comeback story of the year.
Well, according to The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal, Netflix should keep it up in 2014 and the year after that, and the one after that. In his fascinating piece, "How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood," Madrigal used a painstaking methodology to determine that the company has created a whopping 76,897 subgenres by analyzing and tagging "every movie and TV show imaginable." As a result, Madrigal writes, "They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is previously unprecedented."
But, what does this mean, exactly?
Well, it's simple, really. Netflix's success relies on it attracting and keeping subscribers. By cataloging every genre imaginable, and even some unimaginable, like Assassination Bounty-Hunter Secret Society Dramas Based on Books Set in Europe About Fame for Ages 8 to 10, for instance, Netflix not only ensures that it has something for everyone, but that it can point each person in exactly the right direction. As Madrigal writes, "The better Netflix shows that it knows you, the likelier you are to stick around."
Netflix's extensive database is also critical for its continued push toward original programming. If it knows what you like, it knows exactly what to make. According to Madrigal, certain themes and adjectives proved more popular than others. We love microgenres about marriage and royalty but hate those about 9/11. The words “romantic,” “classic,” “dark,” and “critically acclaimed” were the most popular adjectives for movies, while the 1980s was the most chosen time period. Most surprising of all, however, was that Perry Mason star Raymond Burr was the most popular actor, a phenomenon the brass at Netflix has trouble explaining. Unfortunately, he died in 1993, so we'll never see the category Raymond Burr-Starring Classic Dark Comedy Set in 1980s London About a Married King — good thing there are about 80,000 others. (The Atlantic)