Over 50 Examples of Writers Complaining about an “Algorithm” That Doesn’t Exist

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Today, I’m revisiting one of my least favorite Hollywood talking points, that the vaunted Netflix “algorithm” makes decisions about what TV shows and movies Netflix (and other streamers) should make. 

Since last year, I’ve been collecting examples of people complaining about the “algorithm” and I’ve collected a far-from-complete list of over fifty examples. So instead of derailing that entire post with too many examples, I decided to just post them here on the website. If you find examples I’ve missed, send them my way.

(Note, I’m not including examples of people complaining about Netflix’s recommendation engine/algorithm, since that does exist! This is just people complaining that a movie or TV show was made or designed or perfected by an “algorithm”.)

Without further ado, the examples:

Netflix’s biggest strength isn’t “international series”, as I’ve been writing about all year; its Netflix’s American subscriber base, millions of whom turn on Netflix first thing when they turn on the TV. At this point, Netflix hasn’t had a true foreign hit since Squid Game.

Hallmark and Lifetime have been making bland, inoffensive Christmas movies well before the algorithm ever did. 

The “data” Netflix has is basically no different than the data (ie film comps) that Hollywood has always used. 

Also, Netflix, Prime Video and Apple’s film festival bidding wars caused huge spikes in indie film buying at much higher prices than the pre-streaming era, leading to a boom in film festival sales. 

Back in the 90s, two volcano movies came out in the same year. And two meteor/comet movies came out in 2000.

As I’ll write about later this month, Netflix cancels shows that don’t get good ratings.

The TV shows that tend to have the most fans have the best viewership, as I talked about on Sonny Bunch’s podcast this week. Many people don’t realize this, but it’s almost always the case. 

According to Samba TV, about 60% of viewers do NOT binge watch TV shows.

Again, this is a quote from an actual screenwriter. Actual writers and showrunners think Netflix has an algorithm that determines things like this, so lets be clear:

The decision to split seasons into two batches has nothing to do with an algorithm.

There’s literally no data (since they haven’t really done this before) and really, it’s just a business decision! Made by a human! Don’t let the humans off the hook. 

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.


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