HBO Hires ‘Human’ Content Recommendation

Netflix more than 10 years ago created algorithm-based content recommendation software. Many streaming services tout curated content selection in an attempt to differentiate from the competition.

HBO is taking a different approach: It’s paying people to hype programs such as “Game of Thrones,” “Chernobyl” and “Divorce,” “Euphoria,” “Big Little Lies,” and “Succession,” among other originals, as part of a “Recommended by Humans,” marketing campaign.

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The promotion, which bowed Aug. 6, features a website (humanreco.hbo.com) featuring access to free episodes of HBO current and catalog shows with accompanying program shout-outs by real (okay, paid) fans.

When Netflix switched focus from rental discs to streaming video, it sought mathematical algorithms to recommend content to subscribers. It briefly offered a $1 million “Netflix Prize” to anyone who could increase predictions on user ratings for content.

HBO is taking a less expensive path, using social media (Twitter) and paid-for testimonials to generate content buzz in advance of parent WarnerMedia’s launch of a new (HBO Max) subscription streaming service.

While the “human” campaign has an April Fool’s feel to it, that appears to be part of its intent.

“We paid them for their time because we’re not monsters,” read the website.

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