How Streaming Algorithms Recommend Content

Have you ever wondered when you open your Netflix or Amazon Prime account, there is a whole section of “You May Also Like”, how do they know you might like these?

These streaming platforms use Artificial Intelligence algorithms and through your previously viewed movies and TV shows or even through your browser history, they select similar shows. For example, if you have watched “FRIENDS” previously, they will now suggest you watch “How I Met Your Mother”, since both are about a group of friends.

These streaming platforms are geo-restricted and due to distribution rights, you cannot

access JioCinema from anywhere, the same issue is with OTT platforms

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm is a procedure with a set of defined rules and instructions to carry out certain functions. These functions are based on real-world problems and require sophisticated mechanisms to provide efficient and effective outputs.

Algorithms empower computers to conduct tasks that are impossible to achieve by a human brain. They use their abilities to automate the processes and increase the reaction time to speed up the process.

Hence, in order to break bigger processes into smaller and doable tasks algorithms are playing a key role in every industry. Algorithms can be found in our emails, apps, search engines, dating services, video games, social media, travel sites, streaming services, GPS, and many more.

Let us find out how algorithms help in streaming platforms.

How Does the Algorithm Work with Streaming Content?

Streaming service providers are high in demand these days. People tend to consume entertainment media to a larger extent than ever. This increase in dependence on stream platforms is majorly due to a stop shop to get your entertainment fix.

However, as the content on these platforms increases, people tend to become indecisive as to what type of content to watch. This is exactly where the role of algorithms comes into play. Algorithms have been integrated into almost all major streaming platforms.

Some of the major streaming platforms have been using algorithms for a long time with Amazon starting in 1998 and Netflix starting in 2007.

These streaming platforms integrate human knowledge with machine learning tools to transform a unique algorithm that enables a strong decision-making process that will help its users choose their favorite show.

Implementing algorithms empowers the streaming platform, eventually reducing the churn rate, extending viewing time, and maintaining the interests of its users.

Following are the three types of recommendation systems implemented by the streaming algorithms:

Collaborative Filtering mechanism:

This mechanism factors in the interests and behavioral patterns of other users with resembling tastes to make recommendations.

Content-Based Mechanism:

This type of algorithm carefully analyses and integrates the attributes of an item which could be tags, metadata, or text in order to form a recommendation that resembles items the user has earlier engaged with.

Knowledge-based Mechanism:

This mechanism uses the characteristics of a product and compares them to the user’s preferences in order to make suggestions. This approach is the best fit for searching new content because it is not dependent on past actions.

How Do Some of The Top Streaming Platforms Use Algorithms?

Netflix uses its algorithm in the most dynamic form. It has several algorithms which operate differently for each user based on their preferences.

The Personalized video ranker, Top-N Video Ranker, Trending Now, continue watching, Video-Video similarity or because you watched, and Page Generation are the main uses of algorithms that are designed based on individual customers.

HBO Max, launched in 2020, uses both algorithms and machine learning recommendations which are less documented than Netflix yet they utilize human interaction to outline the “Pockets of the platform”. HBO Max is more focused on providing individualized experience while maintaining social inclusivity.

Several other platforms like Disney Plus, Hulu, and Amazon Prime also implement algorithms to not just provide recommendations based on the history but also how the users are using the streaming platform.

Some platforms like The Criterion Channel deviates from the use of algorithm and focus more on what needs to be shown to people rather than what they might be interested in watching.


Algorithms integration in streaming platforms was a breakthrough for these streaming services. Such an incredible mechanism increased the viewership and reduced the number of subscription cancellation requests.

Reducing the decision time and curating the recommendation as per the likes of the viewers has also increased the satisfaction of the users to a great extent.

Nowadays, viewers want their type of content readily available on the streaming platform, they do not want to hover around to look for new content, taking this into consideration, almost every platform is now using AI algorithms to assist their clients.

Leave a Reply