Netflix Reveals Million-Dollar Contest Winner


Netflix (NFLX) today announced that BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos won the million-dollar Netflix Prize, a competition for software that can predict movies customers will like better than Netflix’s in-house software, called Cinematch.

The competition began in October, 2006. Contenders had to develop recommendation software that was at least 10% better than Cinematch.

Though the competition officially ended in July 2009, there was some confusion about the winner. Bellkor was the only company to have passed the 10% improvement mark at that time. But other contenders had 30 days to beat Bellkor, and another team called Ensemble did. Netflix did not announce the winner immediately.

Netflix is so pleased with the results of the contest that it already announced Netflix Prize 2. This time, the contest will be shorter, the company says: It will award grand prizes for the best results at six and 18 months.

Winner Bellkor’s Pragmatic Chaos is a seven-person team of statisticians, machine-learning experts and computer engineers from the United States, Austria, Canada, and Israel, the NY Times says.