Netflix awards $1M prize to improve movie picks

Netflix Inc. declared a seven-member group of researchers, scientists and engineers from around the world as winners Monday of its three-year, $1 million contest to improve its movie recommendation system by at least 10 percent.

It was a close call, but BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos narrowly beat out a rival group called the Ensemble for the Netflix Prize, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company said at an awards ceremony in New York.

For those more excited by algorithms than touchdowns, following the Netflix Prize has been like the Super Bowl. And the winning method could have implications well beyond Netflix recommendations; any business that uses people's preferences to sell products could learn from the exercise.

Tens of thousands of people have pored over the problem since the contest began in October 2006. At last count, there were more than 51,000 contestants from 186 countries.

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