UPDATE: As of October 1st, 2017 — I have not seen the preview screen in the past month. I highly doubt Netflix read my blog post and took the hint, but I am glad the previews are gone. 👍
Around a month ago, I decided to renew my Netflix subscription. Well, actually — I decided to use one of my many email accounts to get a (another) free month trial. How does this company make so much money when half the people are probably on free trials? I can’t be the only cheap-ass cheating the system, right?
Anyway, back to the point. A month ago I started up Netflix. I found a show and before seeing Episode 1 play, I was greeted with a “The following exclusive preview has been selected just for you” screen. I watched it, continued on to my show and simply thought of it as a new feature that will pop-up from time-to-time. Then, Episode 1 ended; I choose to start Episode 2. Again, I was greeted with another preview screen, this time showing different content. Each preview was a Netflix Original, so clearly a trend of Netflix self-promotion was forming. Now a month later, I have seen a hundred “Exclusive Previews Just For Me” show up before each show episode or movie. Having to fast forward through these most of the time, I have become a slightly agitated. Before swearing off Netflix forever, I decided to take a look at the Yes and No of Netflix Previews.
Why Netflix Previews Are Good
I see the reason why Netflix has introduced this feature. Half of their original content goes unseen and gets cancelled. So what better way to draw attention to it’s multi-billion dollar content library, than to force it upon all 104 million users world-wide. Hmm… That’s not a strong contender for a yes vote. Actually, there is a positive way to look at this. Netflix does have an ever improving line of original content. Based on past quality, I may be prone to pass up their newer content, if it was not somehow drawn to my attention. The previews did gauge my interest a few times and that proceeded with me adding a few Netflix Originals to “My List”. I did notice the preview feature was on the Xbox One and TV versions of the Netflix App, but was not on the Windows 10 version of the Netflix app. So that makes me wonder; How many of the 104 million users are actually seeing “exclusive previews”?
Why Netflix Previews Are Bad
I think I made the bad fairly clear in the beginning. Netflix previews are ANNOYING! Having to fast forward through them is reminiscent of the VHS rental era. I mean really, what’s next? Five minutes of previews, that can’t be skipped? A helpful hint for you Netflix: Be kind and rewind! Rewind to the time where this feature wasn’t harassing your paying customers! That might be a tad-bit more bitching than necessary. It is only a 10 to 30 second preview — that can be skipped through — after all. However, it’s not entirely unrealistic that Netflix becomes more aggressive with this in-your-face preview approach, and that’s most troubling to me.
The Verdict: Keep the previews, change the presentation
I am not entirely excited about this feature, currently. I think it’s intrusive and feels a lot like advertising. Advertising is not usually provided with subscriptions, but most do come with self-promotion (HBO). I do think it’s a great way to find good original content that may otherwise be dismissed, while looking for a favorite TV show or movie created by another network. My main issue with the feature is the amount of previews that are shown. If there was a limit of one per day (or something better than before each show or movie), I would feel better. Another idea is to display the content name and allow the user to quick skip the preview if they are not interested. Even better, show the previews to non-members through advertising channels — such as YouTube — and leave the paying (or almost paying — like myself) subscriber to decide when they want to preview Netflix Originals.