Is Netflix Getting Into The Dating Game?

August 23, 2010  |  movies etc., technology

netflix_logo2Netflix has announced a “Stream Up” event in San Diego on August 26, inviting its users to “…check out some of their favorite films and maybe even make a love connection based on their cinematic tastes.” Could this mean they are getting into the dating business?

Why not? Netflix has invested millions of dollars into their movie-matching engine, helping customers find movies they’ll love. That same technology used to guess what you’ll rate a movie you haven’t seen could just as easily be applied to matchmaking.

Dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony.com have their own algorithms for helping their users find the perfect mate. Such matching algorithms require you to fill out long questionnaires about your values, interests and tastes and use that as a basis for matching you up with Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Such systems are far from perfect and, in my single days, I tried out such services with little success. But using movies as a basis for mating customers is intriguing, to say the least.

Ayn Rand defined art as “a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments…. [B]y means of a selective re-creation, [art] concretizes man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence. It tells man, in effect, which aspects of his experience are to be regarded as essential, significant, important.” (From “Art and Cognition” in The Romantic Manifesto)

The beauty of using art (and in this case, movies) is that you get at a person’s fundamental view of the world, and matching two similar approaches to life is a recipe for romantic success.

Because we’re talking about one’s reaction to art, you get at issues of one’s personality that are nearly impossible to quantify in a typical questionnaire—issues such as sense of humor, one’s implicit sense of life and implicit philosophy. Matching people by their taste in movies skips the step of need to make explicit one’s philosophy and sense of life on a system like Match.com, which many have difficulty articulating even their own minds.

Taste in movies can’t measure things like physical attraction (which is important in any romantic relationship, and what profile pictures are for). But like all dating and matching services, these are tools, a mere starting off point to help narrow the playing field and increase one’s chances of finding their soul mate.

Whether Netflix decides to enter the dating business is to be seen. But their movie matching engine is an untapped asset in the field of relationship matching. If they don’t pursue creating such a service (or license their technology for someone else to do it), I hope someone else will create such a service. I would definitely use it—if I wasn’t already married.