[…] In other words, our ignorance is our Netflix queue. […]
Netflix has long been known as a revolutionary movie service, destroyer of the old and tired system of picking up your movie at a physical location. Instead they give you an intuitive online queue system that allows you to receive (with 96% accuracy according to the company) your movie the next day. But how exactly does their queue system work? How do they anticipate demand?
Demand is of course a very important factor that plays into their queue system. Too many movies and their inventory becomes clogged with dvds that no one wants rent. Too few and you anger customers that have to wait too long to get their flick. To strike a balance, Netflix takes in the box office performance of a movie into account, as well as user feedback. You can actually reserve a movie before it’s officially released, so Netflix also takes into account the number of users prematurely adding a movie into their queue.
As Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part, and it can be frustrating when you really want to see a movie only to come home each day to an empty mailbox. Why does this happen? No one knows exactly why, but the company did say what factors are at play here. First come first serve may seem like the most fair way to do it, but this isn’t always the case. Your film history, such as the number of new releases you go after each month could mean someone who usually watches older films but finds a new release he/she wants to watch may get it before you. If you have a high turnover rate with movie, faithfully watching and sending them back everyday, you may find yourself supplanted by someone who watches just a few a month. It may not be fair, but it’s better for business.
The Netflix queue is often a complex and frustrating creature, but at least this way you’ll know why your movie was a day or 2 late even though you know you were unquestionably the first person to reserve a new release. Enjoy!