Netflix Should Have Standing Orders

One feature I’d like to see at Netflix: a “standing order” for films that match particular criteria. For example, I would be happy to have Netflix automatically add any Pedro Almodóvar film to my queue as soon as it enters the Netflix universe (Volver looks interesting). I also wouldn’t mind any film rated four stars by Roger Ebert to be dropped into the queue. You could even ask Netflix to add anything that its collaborative filters give a top rating based on your past preferences. Then you would just sit back and be surprised at what arrives for you.

Rather than “opt-in,” the system would become “opt-out” — similar to those discount CD clubs that were popular in the 1980’s, where you had to tell them if you didn’t want the pick of the month. (I built the bulk of my CD collection in that era by taking advantage of the occasional “3 for the price 1” deals.) The difference here is that you are actually likely to want the pick of the month.

A related feature would be “add all” matching a certain criteria with a single action — for example, all Hitchcock films.

This is pretty much how I select films anyway. Knowing that a film is directed by Robert Bresson or Akira Kurosawa (two of my favorite directors) tells me a lot more than a plot synopsis. I’d actually rather know nothing about the film itself in advance.


  1. Steve Laniel Jan 28

    If Netflix had data on the value of its suggestions, it could also just send you a random movie from a queue of those it believes you’d like. That could be really cool.

  2. John L Jan 28

    Yo, Netflix lost a class action for throttling DVDs to customers with different algorithms based on subscription status (determined by movie round-trips)….They waste a ton of money on postage as well. Your suggestion is cute, though.

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