Netflix Awards $1 Million Programming Prize, Announces New Contest


In what turned out to be a heated code-battle right up until the end, Netflix on Monday awarded a seven-person team of statisticians, machine-learning experts, and computer engineers from the U.S., Austria, Canada, and Israel its $1 million prize. All the multinational team -- called BelKor Pragmatic Chaos -- had to do was put their programming mettle to the test and improve the online movie rental service's movie recommendation algorithm by 10 percent, then fend off the competition for 30 days during which time a last call was issued for other teams to submit their work.

Sounds like an easy way to earn a million smackers, right? Mabye not, but if you think you have what it takes to out-program number crunchers from all around the world, only you missed out the first time around, Netflix is again giving out some serious cash in a follow-up contest.

This time around, the award is cut in half from $1 million to $500,000, but there will be no specific accuracy target as there was before. Instead, contestants will be presented with demographic and behavioral data, and then expected to model indviduals' "taste profiles," Netflix said. The data set of more than 100 million entries will provide the renters' age, gender, ZIP codes, genre ratings, and previously chosen movies.

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