Science

The flawed way Netflix measures views leaves TV stuck in the past

Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

AUSTRALIAN comedian Hannah Gadsby recently came up with a pithy description of Netflix: an “amoral algorithm cult”. She would know. It was Gadsby’s Netflix special Nanette that launched her to international fame. She chose to describe the streaming giant in those terms after an anonymous leak revealed details about the company’s system for rewarding creators based on algorithmic predictions of audience numbers.

When Netflix makes decisions about what shows to buy or cancel, their executives often cite “the algorithm”, an internal tool that crunches data about viewership – and is implicitly more objective than a person. Spoiler alert: the system …

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