No, it is not about movies. Prepare to be surprised.
Why do you think online dating fails so easily? A dating site asks people questions and tries to do matching based on the answers. Then people meet offline and – you know – “something just doesn’t work.”
The fundamental question is “what is that indescribable something?”
You know that the indescribable is indeed indescribable, and no one is going to answer this question. However, we all know that it is hidden somewhere in those multiple invisible layers of the soul…
What Netflix already has under the belt is a sophisticated movie recommendation system based on user ratings. It is not a secret that such system clusters both movies and users, and the resulting “preference model” of an average user who left a few hundreds film ratings (this indeed adds up pretty fast) is quite multidimensional. It can capture many subtle traits of how a particular person perceives the world.
Yes, yes, the resulting model of personal preferences is quite general and applicable well beyond movie recommendations. It digs right into that indescribable area of internal layers of the soul. While it dos not (and cannot) describe anything there, it can estimate the “world perception distance” between people in a pretty straightforward way. Is it applicable for a dating industry? You bet!
Seriously, will anyone in their right mind assume that a 5-minute questionnaire on a dating site is more helpful (or objective, for that matter) than an intricate model of the world perception that was being refined for a particular person over years, in the context of perception models of millions of other people? Yes, the latter is exactly what Netflix is sitting on, not realizing its true potential.
It would take not too much for Netflix to set up an extra (optional) service, add “I agree that the information based on my movie ratings may be used to provide me an opportunity to meet like-minded people” checkbox, and all the competing dating sites will be sent to graveyard soon.
Q: Why are you giving away all those ideas?
A: I have unlimited supply of them.