The Black Box of Netflix: A Qualitative Study of Consumers Perception of Netflix and its Recommendation System

Babette Joséphine Verburg & Bjørn Axel Linnet

Student thesis: Master thesis


Recommendation systems are increasingly present in cultural industries providing digital services, helping consumers navigate the continuously growing amount of online content. Scientists have identified potential societal consequences of recommendation systems effect on consumers, however consumers’ perception of recommendation systems have yet to be included in the academic conversation. The purpose of this study is to fill this knowledge gap by including consumers’ perception of the influence of recommendation systems on their cultural consumption, using Netflix and its recommendation system to research the topic. To gain a general understanding of the target groups’ perception of Netflix, and its recommendation system, a pre-study questionnaire was conducted. The knowledge gathered from the pre-study made it possible to further specify the questions for the subsequent focus group interviews and provided insight into how to challenge the focus group interview participants’ perception of Netflix and its recommendation system. This study showed the target group had an ambivalent perception of Netflix and its recommendation system’s influence on their cultural consumption. The target group perceived themselves as autonomous consumers living in a black box society and still believing they were in charge of their consumption. The target group participants acknowledged that consumers can be influenced by Netflix and its recommendation system, but they were not capable of recognizing to what extent they themselves were influenced. This research could be the starting point for further research within the field.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages116
SupervisorsJohn K. Christiansen