Customers Also Watched

by Dave


My 10:30 was cancelled, so I had just enough time to shower and get breakfast before my 11:15. The cats, who didn’t get shower breaks, glared at me over the tops of their monitors as I passed. “Closers get coffee,” I muttered. 

My best ideas came in the shower. That’s where I got the idea for Frasier Friday Feline Frappes, probably our biggest HR event of the season. Friday’s a tough night for a work event, though. Shouldn’t have switched from tuna to vanilla.

Dogs don’t have the attention span for a multi-season detective show, or even a 30 minute cop sit-com. They lose interest when you leave the room. We learned this the hard way, and our results for Barney Miller (1975-1982, 171 eps): Season 1 are unreliable, at best. 

Sure, one-to-four cats are unlikely to make it through a few episodes without a group performative snub. But, after weeks of testing, we learned that fourteen is sufficient to get adequate data on a series. The group of sixteen watching The Closer (2005-2012, 109 eps) don’t even need to be monitored, and we’ll get the results we need from a post-view focus group.

We still use dogs for America’s Funniest (née Home) Videos.

Although we haven’t been picked up by IMDB yet, our website is getting a lot of attention. I think it’s only a matter of time before the whole project is as much a household name as the Nielsen ratings. We hope. There are no promises in this industry. Firefly (2002-2003, 14 eps) was brilliant, but I’d still be in my robe if they’d had a second season. 

When we all went inside, we only thought about ourselves: how are we going to work; what are we going to eat; how will I survive alone; how will I survive my family? It wasn’t until the Full Stop that we thought to ask what this would mean for other species. Sure, we adapted. The “treadmill sidecar” sold out in days. But not everybody can afford that.

There’d been a “Family” category on every streaming site since late last century, but now we were programming for inter-species audiences. TV viewing predictably surged in the weeks after people went inside. But nobody had ever thought about what our pets wanted to watch. I had.

I’d been testing with my own animals for some time already. When the order was announced, a lot of us knew what this meant for the domesticated community. We took in strays, those left behind. I wasn’t thinking about sample size. I just followed my heart, and ended up with enough companions make my data count.

The algorithm isn’t perfect yet, but once it’s ready, my team can get a break. The algorithm will do the thinking. All a cat—or a dog, or a ferret, or a bearded lizard—owner has to do is select a category, and hit play. A ferret will stay with How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014, 208 eps) for nearly the first 100 episodes before they just want to skip to the final season. But that’s almost a 40 hour work week. Or a solid weekend binge. Some humans like that show, too.

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