Why Does Netflix Suggest Shows You Have Already Watched?

So you’re scrolling through the Netflix catalog, the recommendations supposedly curated just for your tastes. But you start to notice something funny.

A lot of the shows they recommend are things you have already watched.

So why is that? Why does Netflix bother showing content that you’ve already watched, maybe a few times (*ahem* The Office *ahem*).

Is it a mistake? Is their algorithm bad? Did they somehow erase your account history and had to start over?

No, it’s far more simple than that.

We asked a source with knowledge of this system this same question, and they let us in on a dirty little secret about Netflix recommendations. Netflix suggests shows you have already watched because you will probably re-watch a lot of content available on their service.

An example – you watched ‘Parks and Rec’ last year. You loved it. In fact, every-so-often, you log in just to watch a few more of your favorite episodes from the series. Netflix will then routinely remind you that they have the show available for streaming, so when you’re spending twenty minutes mindlessly scrolling, that one of your favorites is sitting right there, ripe for a re-watch.

Netflix uses a near-infinite amount of data to show you what content they think you will want to watch. It is never a mistake that they are showing you the same content that you have already watched. They know, and deep down you probably do to, that you really do want to re-stream a large majority of the shows you have already watched. 

Think about the last time you poked through their catalog. Netflix does not actually have a ton of content, about 5,500 titles in the US, and a lot of these can be b-list films and old television shows. But they want to keep you as a subscriber despite how much their library has sat stagnant for the past few years. But there it is, what you’ve really been after, a third re-watch of ‘Breaking Bad.’

Netflix wants to remind you of the good times you’ve had binge-watching a handful of high-quality shows. That is why you keep seeing the same titles in your Netflix feed.

Trust them, it’s what you probably want to watch anyways.