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Twitter Discussions about the Launch of Netflix in Italy

The second speaker in this AoIR 2016 session is Fabio Giglietto, who shifts our focus to Netflix. This was launched in Italy in October 2015, and has become especially popular with young adults in the 18-24 age range. There has been a growth in the practice of binge-watching TV series as part of this adoption process, too – and other online video providers have also become available in Italy, along with unauthorised sources.

Italian users have been especially attracted by the content discovery features that Netflix provides – especially the algorithmic recommendations of new shows to watch based on the established tastes of the user. Such features were also discussed on Twitter (where especially early adopters will have been active) in the context of the launch of Netflix, and this is what this research focusses on.

The project collected some 37,000 tweets that contained the hashtag #ciaoNetflix or mentioned @NetflixIT, as well as Italian-language tweets mentioning Netflix buy name. From this, the #ciaoNetflix tweets were selected for further analysis – not least because the Twitter API filter purporting to deliver Italian-language tweets also tended to capture many irrelevant Spanish-language tweets.

Coding categories for these tweets that were used here related to tweets discussing time and space shifting of viewing practices (11%); news and how-to information about using Netflix (5%); the catalogue of available content (8%); competitors to Netflix (7%); aesthetic objects (9%); devices used for viewing (2%); and subjective reactions to the availability of the service (20%). News and how-to tweeters had a substantially larger number of followers, interestingly.

In the time and space category, users were comically lamenting their impending loss of a social life, and the use of the service in non-traditional locations, but also discussed the process of paying for video streams that were freely but illegitimately available through filesharing. There were few explicit mentions of the algorithmically personalised aspects of Netflix use; the service is still being used in the same way as a traditional catalogue, rather than for content discovery. There is prominently expressed interest in the TV series specifically produced for Netflix, however.

The next step is now to explore current perspectives on the occasion of the first anniversary of Netflix's introduction to Italy, also by confronting early users with their tweets from one year ago.