Netflix vs Google Maps via NY Times

The New York Times has done it again. In their continuing effort to rethink the way “news” is presented in the digital era, they’ve hatched a killer mashup of Google Maps and Netflix data that doubles as a way to serve up their own reviews of top rentals.

Titled “A Peek into Netflix Queues”, the feature invites you to pick a major US city and mouse around a map to see top ten lists of 2009 Netflix rentals by zip code.

Using a slide bar at the top, you can select a movie title to see a color-coded display of its popularity. The darker the region, the higher the Netflix rental rank.

Not surprisingly, Milk was more popular in Minneapolis’ Uptown area (ranked #2 in 55408) than it was up in the northern suburbs (#26 in 55443).  As pointed out by Nathan at, there was an interesting split in the DC area over rentals of Frost/Nixon (below).

I’d much rather explore these maps and make my own interesting discoveries than read somebody’s article about geo-trends in Netflix activity.  This is the kind of news that can’t land on your doorstep, and I credit the New York Times for embracing data visualization as an emerging and very relevant form of journalism.

About Marty Wetherall