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Netflix to follow up its million-dollar contest

The Netflix Prize is reported to come to a close next month, and the company is already set to unveil the next version of it, which could impact other Netflix features.


Netflix is in the process of readying the second iteration of its million-dollar algorithm contest.

The original prize, which began in late 2006 and recently reached its final deadline, had both teams and individuals striving to better Netflix's algorithm for recommending movies to users--all in the hopes of winning a $1 million prize. This was later split up into smaller prizes as the contest dragged on.

According to the Associated Press, which sources a Netflix forum post by Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt, the next contest is set to debut next month along with the unveiling of the winner of the first contest (which has yet to be announced).

Hunt said that the new contest would not only be shorter than the last one (6-18 months instead of two-plus years), but could also have teams working on ways to improve other aspects of the service--not just movies that are recommended to users based on ratings and viewing habits. That could literally be anything, from creating an algorithm to suggest other users to befriend, or helping the company better determine which movies to purchase to meet demand.

The effect of these contests eventually filters down to Netflix users who enjoy a better service. In the case of the first contest, an improved recommendation algorithm meant more accurate movie suggestions, something that could ultimately keep users subscribed to the service for longer periods of time, while taking business away from competitors with less accurate systems.