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Netflix is making big changes to how it recommends movies and shows

It's out with the old and in with the new...

Netflix is making big changes to how it recommends movies and shows
Andrew Williams
19 January 2024

Netflix is about to shake up how it helps you find movies and TV shows to watch… again.

In the last big re-work we got the concept of Netflix “matching” you with a piece of content, showing a percentage match, as if the streamer was lodging you in some sort of dating algorithm. That may be about to get binned according to an interview with The New York Times.

Netflix is instead to focus on tags in the future. These are what’s called meta tags, where each and every piece of content gets labelled with any suitable term a person might search for, often loads of them.

There are 30 people over at Netflix whose job it is to attach these tags to content, and there are over 3000 tags in the streamer’s system.

A lot of these are the stuff you might imagine. “Romantic”, “exciting” and “suspenseful” are apparently the most-used of the lot. “Occupation: farmhand” is the least-used according to IndieWire.

The idea is you can search for these sorts of terms in the Netflix search bar, rather than just looking for an actor or the name of a film. And, yep, you can do that right now.

However, even more of the focus is going to be on these tags going forward by the sound of it.

“Tags make as much of a difference as a [magazine] cover line in that snap ‘this is for me’ decision,” Netflix director of product Allan Donald told The New York Times.

Exactly what this means for how searching through Netflix remains to be seen. But we could end up getting an interface where these tags are way more prominent as you rifle through those cover images of shows and movies.

Will it mean and end to those dozens of minutes spent flicking through thumbnails, gradually getting more frustrated? Probably not.