‘We have flops’ – Netflix says algorithm is not flawless

The boss of Netflix has admitted that its algorithm for deciding which shows to make is not flawless.

Greg Peters, co-chief executive of the streaming site, was speaking at the Media And Telecoms 2024 And Beyond Conference on Tuesday.

He cited crime drama Top Boy, which was originally broadcast on Channel 4, teenage comedy Sex Education and war film All Quiet On The Western Front as part of the company’s offering which were given the go-ahead due to being “unique” and did not rely on data.

Mr Peters said: “If it was just as simple as great algorithms then we would have no flops.

“But we do. Making a TV series and making a film is a quintessentially human endeavour, hundreds of things have to go right to get through the day. And so it has all the success and failure that entails.”

He also said viewers of historical drama The Crown were two times more likely to enjoy legal documentary Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?, citing this as evidence that the algorithm does not always give “obvious” suggestions for viewers.

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Prime Video is seeing more subscribers who do not mind its advertisement service (Nick Ansell/PA)

Elsewhere, Chris Bird, managing director at Prime Video UK, said it is seeing more viewers pay for subscriptions with advertisements after changing its service earlier this year.

“We are seeing huge adoption to our ad-supported service,” he said.

UK customers have to pay an additional £2.99 to go ad-free.

Mr Bird also said the company is “investing massively” in unique content, citing the fantasy series The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power and dismissing claims of audiences being less interested in distinctive shows.

He also said public broadcasters are “vital” and that Prime Video spends 400 million US dollars (£313 million) on creating partnerships with UK channels.