Recently, Netflix embarked on a recruitment drive to employee a Tagger to cover the UK and Ireland for the first time. It basically meant that a British or Irish person would get what many would think is the dream job - being paid to watch TV and movies day in, day out.
But is that in fact true? What does being a Tagger actually entail? Do they really get cold, hard cash to stare at the goggle box all day?
Pocket-lint spoke to Todd Yellin, the video streaming service's vice president of product innovation to ask him what sorts of things a Tagger is required to do and why it is necessary to have them dotted around the world in the first place.
We also talked about future plans for Netflix, including features customers have been asking about for some time, such as offline viewing and a dedicated Netflix set-top-box. He had plenty to say.
How useful have Taggers been to the American version of Netflix, and how will Brits help going forward?
Our Taggers have been an integral part of the team that focuses on making it easy for our members to always find something great to watch. The tags are a key component of how we personalise the Netflix experience, helping us better tailor the service to each individual’s tastes and preferences.
We were looking for a Tagger in the UK and Ireland region in order to be even more super-accurate in our tags – cultural differences mean words have slightly different meanings. When we use tags to describe content like ‘witty’ or ‘campy’ they mean slightly different things in the UK, compared with the US. Let's face it - your bar for witty is much higher than ours! We aspire to be even better at suggesting titles that Netflix members in the UK and Ireland will want to watch next.
What does being a Tagger involve?
We continually add new titles to Netflix. A Tagger gets paid to watch and analyze this wide range of films and TV programs before we put them on the service.
The reason we employ real people to watch every piece of content on Netflix and to break them down into tags is so we can accurately assess what the content is like, and then ultimately play match-maker between members and the movies and shows they will enjoy the most, based on their viewing habits.
It’s a flexible role, so our Taggers typically work from home, or wherever they want. Therefore, it allows them the time to also pursue their other passions.
What is the major driver for new subscribers? Is it content suggestions, and making it as easy and intuitive as possible to offer related viewing? Or is it new and exclusive content?
It’s a mix of things: an easy to use and affordable service, best in class streaming technology, and a broad mix of great content to watch. We offer everything from award winning Netflix originals like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black to a wide selection of TV shows and movies.
Members can find titles from every category from popular action, comedy, romance and kids programming to more niche content like documentaries and cult favourites.
It’s our personalisation engine which helps our over 50 million members easily navigate all of this content. Finally, Netflix liberates our members from a linear schedule allowing them to watch when and where they want.
Netflix is synonymous with movie and TV show streaming, but now has plenty of competition. What innovations allow it to stay one step ahead of its rivals?
We are a company that invests hundreds of millions of dollars every year into improving the user experience and test all kinds of ideas in three areas: personalisation algorithms, user interfaces across hundreds of different device types and video streaming technology. We are constantly testing new approaches. At the end of the day our goal is to more effectively connect people to stories they will love.
Will we ever see offline viewing come to Netflix?
Streaming is the future, and people simply want to click and watch. With the proliferation of high quality wireless internet, you will soon be able to stream anywhere. Investing in offline viewing would be a short term distraction and we feel we can invest more wisely on more forward leaning technology and better content.
Netflix is on just about every portable and internet connected device possible, but will we ever see a dedicated Netflix set-top-box?
We realised many years ago that creating hardware is not the core competency of our company. Creating great content and innovating on the technology for members to discover what’s right for them and to view that content over the internet is what we have learned to do well. With Netflix available on over a thousand devices, you can get us on pretty much anything that has a screen and connects to the internet.
Rivals tend to limit the amount of devices that can be registered to an account. Is it important for Netflix to continue to keep device limits open?
Our aim is simplicity for members, so we don’t limit devices they can use. We also have different options for people who want to watch on multiple devices simultaneously.
Netflix is all about making viewing easy and fitting into your lifestyle needs. We’d like to give our members the ability to seamlessly switch from streaming on their TVs to their PCs to their mobile devices without missing a moment of a beloved show.
What next for Netflix?
We aim to be at the forefront of cutting edge technology, and you'll continue to see Netflix grow and change to keep up with what delights our members the most. For example, Netflix has recently launched programming in 4K, allowing a sub-set of viewers to watch shows like Breaking Bad in ultra HD.