The Netflix Match System – A Study in Generating Random Numbers

The problem with binge-watching on Netflix is that you lose three days of your life.”  – Harland Williams

Has anyone ever figured out how Netflix comes up with the match percentage that appears on the stuff that comes up on your main page?

I, for example, watch a lot of stand up comedy on Netflix.  So, I expect to get Bill Burr, Mike Berbiglia, etc.  I’ve also watched most of the Marvel movies that are on there as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and  Jessica Jones.

So, it makes total sense I’d get things like Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (or, as I like to call it, “Try Hard 2″… or is “Try 2 Hard” better?) or The Punisher to come up as matches for what I like to watch.  (Both of those are 98% matches).

So, why is Luke Cage a 74% match?  Because I watched Friends, does Netflix automatically assume I don’t like black people?

Here’s the one that just stuns me:  On my top bar, the movie “8 Mile” is a 98% match.

8 Mile.


Right next to “Ace Ventura:  When Nature Calls”.

Never mind that I really can’t stand anything about Eminem/Marshall Mathers/Skinny Shadow/Whatever.  And, forget the fact I haven’t watched anything at all like Ace Ventura on Netflix (and thought the first one was pretty abysmal).

How in the hell did Netflix determine that BOTH of these shows somehow rated a 98% match?

Which begs the question… Of what is this a 98% match?

I think it goes something like this:

  1. I just watched House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey.
  2. Kevin Spacey was in The Usual Suspects with Kevin Pollack.
  3. Kevin Pollack was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon.

Wait… no, that’s the Kevin Bacon degrees of separation thing.

But, I did it in three degrees and all three are named Kevin, so I think that’s a 98% match for something.