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Why Netflix Is Paying Some People To Watch TV And Movies

Frank and Claire Underwood of House of Cards

Netflix has such a vast library of TV shows nowadays that millions of subscribers have plenty of reasons to binge-watch, and there are really just too many great options for some of us to watch episodes at a moderate pace. Streaming does cost about $10 per month, but that's a fee plenty are willing to pay if it means access to everything from Friends to House of Cards to Sons of Anarchy. As it happens, there are some Netflix streamers who don't have to shell out any money for access to the library of shows. They actually get paid to watch TV and movies on Netflix.

Netflix has developed a system of paying folks to stream content and do some grunt work that can't be managed by computer algorithms, according to THR. The lucky people who make moolah watching Netflix fall into two categories: taggers and juicers. Taggers watch a movie or program and then label it with more specific descriptors than just a general genre. We have taggers to thank for the difference between "cerebral con game thriller" and "thriller with a strong female lead."

Juicers are part of a program called Project Beetlejuice. Not a whole lot is known about Project Beetlejuice, although it has been confirmed that those who are paid to participate receive a set fee to stream content and pick images and videos out of the whole to help subscribers narrow down what to add to their queues.

Working as a tagger or a juicer would make bingewatching a bit more complicated for those of us who just like to sit back and let episodes play themselves a few at a time. Still, being paid to view sounds like it would be worth the effort. Some of those who participate in Project Beetlejuice have come to disagree. They've received compensation for their contributions as independent contractors, which precludes them from benefits such as overtime, paid vacations, a 401(k) plan, and health insurance. Now, some of those contractors have sued Netflix because they believe that the work that they put in warrants the benefits of an employee rather than an independent.

The contractors have been able to work from home, which is not a luxury that all employees are able to enjoy. Two have come out and reported working upward of forty hours per week under close management by Netflix representatives. They were given rigid deadlines for their work as taggers or juicers. The lawsuits allege that the workers deserve more pay when the work they put in qualified as their major source of income. Netflix has responded to the lawsuit by arguing that the contractors signed agreements that would require disputes to be handled in arbitration outside of the courts.

It's hard to blame anybody for wanting health insurance and paid vacations out of what they do for a living, even if what they do happens to be something fairly awesome like streaming video for Netflix. Only time will tell if the disgruntled contractors' lawsuits will result in taggers and juicers being qualified as employees in the future. Netflix is understandably trying to keep the matter private, so the public may never know for sure what happens. Keep a look out for "visually striking angry taggers are sick of Netflix's crap horror" to pop up as a subgenre.

If you're still happy enough with Netflix to keep on shelling out that $10 per month, check out our list of ten great shows that are perfect for streaming this summer, and don't forget to take a look at our breakdown of the best original series that Netflix has to offer.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.