Everybody lies

By James Zuccollo 09/08/2013

Netflix makes a lot of money from understanding your viewing preferences and one thing they’ve learned is that ratings don’t matter, only viewing behaviour is predictive:

Why do I see so many three- or even two-star movies in my recommendations?

Gomez-Uribe: People rate movies like Schindler’s List high, as opposed to one of the silly comedies I watch, like Hot Tub Time Machine. If you give users recommendations that are all four- or five-star videos, that doesn’t mean they’ll actually want to watch that video on a Wednesday night after a long day at work. Viewing behavior is the most important data we have.

Amatriain: We know that many of the ratings are aspirational rather than reflecting your daily activity.

We can’t hide from you.

Gomez-Uribe: A lot of people tell us they often watch foreign movies or documentaries. But in practice, that doesn’t happen very much.

This is why economists focus on revealed preferences almost to the exclusion of stated preferences.