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Netflix Tackles Binge Viewers
Netflix Tackles Binge Viewers' Snoozing Woes

By Jennifer LeClaire
March 1, 2014 10:53AM

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The goal of Hack Day wasn't to solve the online TV viewing problem of sleepy Netflix users. The primary goal of Netflix Hack Day is to have fun, experiment and offer its engineers a creative outlet. If something interesting and potentially useful comes from it, that's fine, but the real motivation beyond Netflix Hack Day is fun.

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If you binge watch Netflix TV shows like "Breaking Bad" or "House of Cards," you’ve likely fallen asleep late into the evening. Meanwhile, the shows still go on. You can wake up the next day not knowing where you left off, which can be annoying.

Netflix is showing off its creativity with a new way to help you overcome this and other online TV viewing challenges. The revelations came during Netflix Hack Day, part of the company’s self-described culture of innovation.

Of course, the hack everyone is talking about is becoming known as the sleep tracking feature. It lets you opt for a “resume from sleep” bookmark in case you fall asleep watching a TV show. Another popular hack is the Netflix Beam. It uses Bluetooth LE to transfer accounts from one device to another without having to log in and out.

“At Netflix, we pride ourselves in creating a culture of innovation and experimentation,” Daniel Jacobson, Ruslan Meshenberg, Matt McCarthy and Leslie Posada, all Netflix innovators, said in a blog post. “We are constantly running A/B tests on virtually every enhancement to the Netflix experience. There are other ways in which we instill this culture within Netflix, including internal events such as Netflix Hack Day, which was held last week.”

Funky Data Visualizations

Netflix didn’t start out trying to solve this online TV viewing problem of its sleepy users. The primary goal of Hack Day is to have fun, experiment and offer Netflix' engineers a creative outlet.

“If something interesting and potentially useful comes from it, that is fine, but the real motivation is fun,” the team said. “With that spirit in mind, most teams started hacking on Thursday morning, hacked through the night, and they wrapped up by Friday morning to present a demo to their peers.”

That said, the team reports it’s not unusual to see a lot of really good ideas come from Hack Day. Last week they saw what they characterizes as “really spectacular work.”

May Never See Light of Day

“The hackers generated a wide range of ideas on just about anything, including ideas to improve developer productivity, ways to help troubleshooting, funky data visualizations, and of course a diversity of product feature ideas,” the team said. “These ideas get categorized, then to determine the winner for each category the audience of Netflix employees rated each hack, in true Netflix fashion, on a 5-star scale.”

The bad news: Despite the engineers hard work, their cool hacks may never actually become part of the Netflix product, internal infrastructure, or be used beyond Hack Day.

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