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Here’s how Netflix knows you’re rooting for the bad guys

If a thumbnail images show a villainous character, you’re more likely to watch the show, according to Netflix.

In a blog post on Tuesday, the streaming giant offered insight into how it chooses the artwork within listings for its TV shows and movies.

The company has been keeping track of how various images perform when it comes to viewer clicks and came back with some interesting findings.

“Our members respond to villainous characters surprisingly well in both kids and action genres in particular,” the post from global manager of creative services Nick Nelson said (via Engadget).

For Dragons: Race to the Edge, the two images of villainous characters seen below significantly outperformed all others.”

See also: Would you pay more for Netflix offline viewing?

The firm has also learned that images showing cast members for shows is another great way of attracting viewers to watch the show.

However, the fewer characters within the thumbnail, the better the image performs.

“[W]hile ensemble casts are fantastic for a huge billboard on the side of a highway, they are too complex at small sizes and ultimately, not as effective at helping our members decide if the title is right for them on smaller screens,” Nelson added.

In the case of Orange is the New Black, that’s why you’ll just see the Piper character in thumbnails for seasons 2 and 3 compared with a line-up of 8 cast members for season 1.

Going further, Netflix believes images showing complex emotions rather than benign impressions are important factors when compelling viewers to click. The company has also experienced success with using different thumbnail images in different regions.


Do you think Netflix is right? Let us know in the comments below.

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