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Netflix has a secret team of workers paid to watch TV and movies

Netflix Streaming

A pair of recent lawsuits has revealed that Netflix has a secret team of employees tasked with watching thousands of hours of programming from Netflix’s library in order to figure out which still images should be used to represent a given program.

While seemingly silly on the surface, Netflix famously spares no expense when it comes to keeping users immersed in the Netflix universe for as long as possible. From Netflix’s vantage point, every detail, no matter how minute, matters a great deal. So whether it’s the recommendations that fill up a user’s splash page or the images used to represent movies and TV shows, no detail is too small to be ignored.

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Word of the program — officially dubbed Project Beetlejuice — were first brought to the surface following two putative class action suits against the streaming giant. Specifically, the lawsuits were filed by two respective members of the Project Bettlejuice team who believe they should be classified as employees rather than contractors.

The distinction might seem slight, but the legal implications are significant. As contractors, the viewers are not entitled to overtime pay, a higher wage, health insurance, 401(k) packages and more.

Originally reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the secretive program tasks hundreds of individuals called “juicers” to spend untold hours watching endless amounts of programming from Netflix’s library. And for all of their time, they’re paid $10/hour.

Famous for its use of algorithms to help make programming decisions, Netflix apparently requires at least a bit of grunt work computers are incapable of handling. Although the company never has publicly acknowledged “juicers” — who can work from home — it has spoken before about “taggers,” who are paid to watch a movie and label it as, for instance, “thriller with strong female lead” to better serve users. In 2014, Netflix even advertised its need for “taggers” in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

As each lawsuit makes its way through the court system, it’ll be interesting to see if any more of Netflix’s secrets make their way into the public eye.

When reached for comment, Netflix told a number of outlets that it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long 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.