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Popular streaming service Netflix has decided to test out promotional videos between binge-watched episodes. Exactly how many episodes a viewer must watch consecutively before the videos appear has not been stated. The goal, however, is to reduce viewer browsing time by recommending shows like the ones viewers are binging.
According to a statement from Netflix, the videos will help “members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”
The statement continues, “A couple of years ago, we introduced video previews to the TV experience because we saw that it significantly cut the time members spend browsing and helped them find something would they enjoy watching even faster.”
The videos are skippable, and Netflix users can opt out of testing. To do so, users need to go to their account profiles on netflix.com, click the Test Participation link, and switch the participation button to “off.”
They can also go straight there by using the URL www.netflix.com/donottest.
Users do seem to be automatically opted into the test, however.
Despite the ability to skip the videos and to opt out of tests, Netflix users have expressed a lot of displeasure on different social media channels. These protests, for example, are on Twitter:
“Netflix has started putting ads for its standup specials in between episodes of Frasier and probably other shows but I’ve got Frasier on and it feels particularly offensive. Keep Frasier pure.”
“I love @netflix and have had it for several years! But if they do ads, even ones that I can skip, I will cancel my account.”
“Netflix is now playing ads for their own shows. Time to cancel my subscription.”
“Hey @netflix , we pay a subscription so we don’t have to see ads. We. Don't. Want. This.”
“You have a lot of market share right now. You do this, and you will quickly learn that we users don’t have brand loyalty when a competitor without commercials pops up.”
“I will cancel my subscription the instant I see Netflix try this. I am not paying to see ads.”
“I hope it’s not true that @netflix is introducing ads into its programming. I literally pay money to Netflix so that I don’t have to see ads. I’d rather stop watching Netflix than have them run ads. Swear to god the first one I see I’m canceling.”
At the end of an Ars Technica article on the Netflix promotional videos, another user commented,
“Look, Netflix. For all I know your stats show that people engage faster/more when scrolling through the app. But your stats don’t show you if your users are just generally more annoyed and they don’t show you if your users actively think negative thoughts about you while using the app. It’s generally a bad idea to transform your customers from happy or neutral to begrudging.”
A handful of angry comments doesn’t amount to a representative sample, but it’s hard to believe that most Netflix users want to see promotional videos while binge-watching episodes, even if they are skippable. Presumably, Netflix will respond appropriately if they receive a lot of negative backlash.
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