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Netflix at the Nexus

Content, Practice, and Production in the Age of Streaming Television

Edited By Theo Plothe and Amber M. Buck

Netflix’s meteoric rise as an online content provider has been well documented and much debated in the popular press and in academic circles as an industry disrupter, while also blamed for ending TV’s "Golden Age." For academic researchers, Netflix exists at the nexus of multiple fields: internet research, information studies, media studies, and television and has an impact on the creation of culture and how individuals relate to the media they consume. Netflix at the Nexus examines Netflix’s broad impact on technology and television from multiple perspectives, including the interface, the content, and user experiences. Chapters by leading international scholars in television and internet studies provide a transnational perspective on Netflix’s changing role in the media landscape. As a whole, this collection provides a comprehensive consideration of the impact of streaming television.

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Chapter 11. Binge-Watching the Algorithmic Catalog: Making Sense of Netflix in the Aftermath of the Italian Launch (Fabio Giglietto / Chiara Checcaglini / Giada Marino / Lella Mazzoli)

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BINGE-WATCHING THE ALGORITHMIC CATALOG

Making Sense of Netflix in the Aftermath of the Italian Launch

Fabio Giglietto, Chiara Checcaglini, Giada Marino, and Lella Mazzoli

Following the end of September announcement, the on-demand streaming service Netflix was officially launched in Italy on October 22, 2015. Long-awaited by local fans and enthusiasts of TV series, the platform’s launch in the Italian market expanded the existing offerings of TV content providers. The main players in the pre-Netflix Italian television landscape were: free-to-air digital terrestrial television/DTT (Rai and Mediaset channels, La7), digital satellite subscription channels (Sky), and SVOD platforms (Infinity by Mediaset, Chili TV, Sky Online). Beside official providers, illegal consumption of digital content was, and still is, a widespread phenomenon in Italy. According to a recent study, 39% of consumers illegally watched films, TV series, or television and entertainment programs at least once in 2016 (FAPAV-IPSOS, 2017).

While entering a rich market (Murschetz, 2016) of existing established players and practices, Netflix allowed the Italian audience to experiment for the first time with some of the exclusive features that made the service popular worldwide. On the one hand, Netflix makes binge-watching easier (Jenner, 2015; Matrix, 2014; Pittman & Sheehan, 2015) by advancing to the next episode. On the other hand, it delivers a radically new metaphor for finding and discovering contents based on the algorithmic analysis of viewer’s preferences and tastes (Cohn, 2016; Gillespie, 2014; Gomez-Uribe & Hunt, 2015; Hallinan...

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