Here’s the quote that whetted my appetite:
Its return from oblivion is a nice illustration of a brainteaser I have been giving my friends since I visited Netflix in Silicon Valley last month. Out of the 60,000 titles in Netflix’s inventory, I ask, how many do you think are rented at least once on a typical day?
The most common answers have been around 1,000, which sounds reasonable enough. Americans tend to flock to the same small group of movies, just as they flock to the same candy bars and cars, right?
Well, the actual answer is 35,000 to 40,000. That’s right: every day, almost two of every three movies ever put onto DVD are rented by a Netflix customer. “Americans’ tastes are really broad,” says Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive. So, while the studios spend their energy promoting bland blockbusters aimed at everyone, Netflix has been catering to what people really want â€” and helping to keep Hollywood profitable in the process.
I’ve believed this last bit for a long time, but I’ve only had anecdotal evidence to prove it (conversations with all sorts of non-film people, experiences on the festival circuit, etc.). It’s great to hear the CEO of a company confirm my intuition with some data.
See also: The Long Tail.