Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.
They paid people to watch films and tag them with all kinds of metadata.
the genres that it displays to people are a key part of that strategy.
"Members connect with these [genre] rows so well that we measure an increase in member retention by placing the most tailored rows higher on the page instead of lower," the company revealed in a 2012 blog post. The better Netflix shows that it knows you, the likelier you are to stick around.
Todd Yellin at Netflix headquarters.
Yellin holed up with a couple of engineers and spent months developing a document called "Netflix Quantum Theory," which Yellin now derides as "our pretentious name." The name refers to what Yellin used to call "quanta," the little "packets of energy" that compose each movie. He now prefers the term "microtag."
Yellin said that the genres were limited by three main factors: 1) they only want to display 50 characters for various UI reasons, which eliminates most long genres; 2) there had to be a "critical mass" of content that fit the description of the genre, at least in Netflix's extended DVD catalog; and 3) they only wanted genres that made syntactic sense.