Dear Netflix,

Looks like the competition is heating up. In the words of Gandhi, the fight has begun. It’s been quite an impressive ride though. Your stock price. How you’ve pushed the competition to bankruptcy. Quite impressive.

If you want to win the next round (which by the way is probably the final round of this bout), then you have to massively improve discoverability.

Netflix does a few things very well.

1) Netflix is on all devices
We moved to Roku just about one year ago. It’s fantastic because between Hulu Plus and Netflix we have almost everything we need. Yeah we’ve added Amazon Instant for some newer releases, but I know those are coming to the previously mentioned channels.

On top of that my PC has Netflix. My iPhone and iPad have Netflix. If I hooked up my XBox to do TV, then that would have Netflix. It’s a truly universal platform, and that’s awesome.

2) Netflix recommends wonderfully
Between the fact that I watch a bunch of documentaries and cop TV shows, and the fact that Micky watches a lot of cheesy Rom-Coms, Netflix has us figured out. Their selection isn’t great today (see next point), but of what they have they are able to categorize and relate it to what I’ve seen.

Netflix hosted a massive competition to improve their recommendation engine by 10%. It took 3 research teams over a year to put together the right algorithms, but they did it. It has definitely proven to be a competitive advantage for Netflix, and hopefully the million dollar prize has treated the competitors well.

3) Netflix is very aggressively going after content
Netflix just signed an extremely big deal with DreamWorks and is demonstrating a clear desire to increase its streaming catalogue. The competition is heating up, and so the price  is going to increase as well, but based on CEO statements Netflix is up to the battle.

This is really going to make the platform that much more compelling. However, the one thing that you do horribly is discoverability.

A movie platform, to be successful with discoverability, has to make it easy to search in any dimension that I want that I associate with the movies even after I discover the movie that I think I’m looking for. Movie title, actors, directors, genre are the obvious search topics that are most obvious. Today, you can search on those dimensions, but for Netflix search and discoverability are not the same thing. It’s not delivering the content that matters. Right now the web interface sucks, but it still gets the movies in front of me.

It’s all about how I interact with the content once I’ve had it presented to me. Give me cross-links on top of the movie that I’m looking at. Is it the actor that I’m interested in? Is it the location? What about the writer? Or the style of comedy?

How can you, Netflix, not have this data? And beyond that, how can you not encourage me to build such verticals into queues which are, “Melih’s Caribbean Instant Queue” or “Melih’s Witty British Humo(u)r Instant Queue”. I can have a movie night around self-categorized, self-discovered films, and, oh by the way, it makes Netflix that much smarter.

Also, please make this available on the Roku. Discoverability is even worse on devices than it is on the PC. But that’s a topic for another day.