The Clever Trick Netflix Uses to Keep You Binge-Watching

iStock.com/mphillips007
iStock.com/mphillips007

From its humble beginnings as a mail-order service for physical storage media, Netflix has grown into a monolithic entertainment giant. As of October 2018, the company reported 130 million paid subscribers worldwide, with a forecast of millions more being added every quarter.

That growth depends in large part on making sure people are finding programming options and then binge-watching them until work and relationships begin to suffer. With so much on the line, it’s no wonder Netflix has a strategy for keeping viewers tuned in—one that has a lot in common with book covers, according to Thrillist.

In a recent Medium post, Netflix programmers revealed that their algorithm for customizing recommendations comes down to more than just a laundry list of titles. Each curated selection will use a still image—which the service calls a landing card—that best represents your interests based on your viewing history.

As a hypothetical example, a menu option for 1993’s Jurassic Park might show off the dinosaurs if you have a tendency to watch creature features. If your queue is full of Jeff Goldblum movies, then you might instead see a shot of the actor (though probably not that shirtless one). In the case of 1997’s Good Will Hunting, a love for dramatic movies might have Netflix show you a sobbing Matt Damon. If you watch a lot of comedies, they’ll show you Robin Williams instead.

Artwork makes up a big part of how Netflix viewers make selections, with one 2016 company survey indicating that the images made up 82 percent of their focus while browsing. A movie or series might have up to a dozen different images, with your viewing habits ranking which one might be most likely to get you to click on it.

It’s the viewer’s hierarchy, not Hollywood’s, that informs those choices. If you’ve mainlined several Jack Black movies, then you might see his face instead of John Cusack’s in a box for 1999’s High Fidelity—even though Cusack is the star and Black has a supporting role. For cases in which stars might have equal appeal, the user’s preferences will help determine what they see. Uma Thurman enthusiasts will notice her in art for 1994’s Pulp Fiction; John Travolta fans will get his image on their screens.

While this is an effective strategy, some critics of the approach say that this level of customization removes the discovery aspect of entertainment consumption. If Netflix is feeding you a diet of things you already like, how will you discover anything new and different that you may also like? The answer to that probably lies in the very analog strategy of asking a friend.

[h/t Thrillist]

8 of Amazon's Bestselling Home Office Desks

JOISCOPE/Amazon
JOISCOPE/Amazon

If you've been working from home for the past six months (or longer), you're overdue for a high-quality office desk. And not just any old one, but a desk designed specifically for comfort and purpose, so you can organize everything you need for your 9-to-5 without having to worry about losing track of that important folder or planner.

The problem, though, is that there are so many options out there to choose from. That’s why we've stepped in to make the process a bit easier for you by compiling a list of the bestselling home office desks from Amazon. Check them out below.

1. Furinno Simplistic A-Frame Computer Desk; $237

Furinno/Amazon

This Furinno A-Frame desk is Amazon’s top home office desk at the moment. Though it may seem simple, sometimes that's all you need to make your space more efficient. The small desk hutch on top creates little cubbies for you to store papers, notebooks, or tools you may need throughout the day. There's even a bench on the bottom for you to put your feet up during the last few hours of the workday.

Buy it: Amazon

2. CubiCubi 40-inch Home Office Table; $95

CubiCubi/Amazon

For those looking for a sleek, modern desk that doesn't skimp on function, go for the CubiCubi. The metal frame, combined with the black wood surface, gives this table a sturdy, reliable feel. There's also a built-in side pocket to store all your papers out of eyesight but within arm’s reach. And according to the company, the whole thing should only take 10 minutes to assemble.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Coleshome 31-inch Computer Desk; $84

Coleshome/Amazon

This 31-inch desk from Coleshome is the perfect option for a small home office. Complete with adjustable leg pads for added stability, this desk can fit in any nook and is designed with simplicity in mind.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mr. Ironstone Black L-Shaped Desk; $130

Mr. IRONSTONE/Amazon

This unique L-shaped desk is perfect for anyone looking to fit their workstation into the corner of a room. Measuring at 50.8 inches on both sides, you’ll get the most out of your surface by adding multiple monitors, a printer, and books all around.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Furinno Efficient Home Desk with Side Shelves; $53

Furinno/Amazon

If you want to make your office feel more like a study, then you’ll need somewhere to store all your tomes. This Furinno desk can help you make space to work and house all your favorite books nearby to grab whenever you need them. The multilevel shelves help make this desk feel more modern, while also creating plenty of storage space.

Buy it: Amazon

6. JOISCOPE 40-inch Computer Desk; $110

JOISCOPE/Amazon

This desk comes packed with plenty of storage space for your things while also providing a large, sleek worktop for you to spread out all day long. The oak finish on top also adds a bit of sophistication to your workday, even if you spend your lunch break perusing the latest cat memes.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Seville Classics Ergonomic Mobile Desk Cart; $44

Seville/Amazon

Standing desks have become more popular in recent years as people look for more ways to improve their posture and overall health. The Seville Ergonomic Mobile Desk can help you achieve your physical goals while assisting you with your work. The desk's height can be adjusted from 20.5 inches to 33 inches, and it has four swivel wheels, two of which lock in case you want to stay in one spot.

Buy it: Amazon

8. ComHoma Black Writing Computer Desk Office Folding Table; $100

ComHoma/Amazon

For a modern design, there's the ComHoma writing desk. The sleek metal bars on the sides and back of the desk add style, not clutter, and the 39-inch tabletop will give you ample space to work on whatever projects come your way.

Buy it: Amazon

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Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.