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Netflix’s ‘top 10 list’ idea is a brilliant way to address a growing problem

Published Apr 17th, 2019 11:57AM EDT
Netflix Top 10 Lists
Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

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I never thought I’d see the day, but it’s reached a point where it’s literally impossible to keep up with the avalanche of content Netflix rolls out every single month. During this month alone, for example, Netflix is planning to roll out 44 new original TV shows and movies, a staggering amount of content by any measure. As a result, the era of watching an episode of your favorite TV show week-to-week has largely been replaced by binging entire series in the span of just a few weeks, or even days.

While it’s nice to see Netflix spend boatloads of cash on new content, the downside is that finding something new to watch has become something of an exercise in frustration. There are simply too many options to choose from at this point. Netflix’s own recommendation algorithm works well sometimes, but it’s far from perfect. Indeed, Netflix’s content catalog is so vast that I sometimes find myself wasting far too much time searching for the perfect program as opposed to just hunkering down and deciding upon a winning title.

In an effort to address this issue, Netflix in its recent shareholder report revealed its plan to test out a new top 10 list strategy in the UK that would provide users with a quick summary of the platform’s more popular programs at a glance. This is an intriguing and arguably brilliant move. From my own personal experience, Netflix’s content library is so large that I’ve found it’s almost better to ignore Netflix’s recommendations and instead rely upon viewing suggestions from friends and family members.

Netflix’s shareholder letter reads in part:

Later in Q2 we’ll be running a test to improve our UK member experience by releasing weekly top 10 lists of the most popular content on our UK service across various programming categories. For those who want to watch what others are watching, this may make choosing titles even easier. After a few months we’ll decide whether to end or expand the test.

I can only imagine that top 10 lists will work wonders for those frustrated by too many viewing options. As opposed to relying upon Netflix’s own recommendation algorithm — which isn’t always accurate given that not everyone ranks the shows they love and hate — viewers will be able to quickly see what programs are trending with others. It’s essentially as if Netflix is providing users with a shortcut to popular programs that might otherwise fly underneath their radar.

Netflix’s strategy vis-a-vis top 10 lists is far from novel — we see it on music streaming services all the time, sometimes on a country by country basis — but that’s besides the point. Netflix knows it has content to keep viewers entertained for hours and now it’s going to do something to help viewers find that content more easily.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.