Spoiler: People don’t like it.
As stated by Cord Cutters News, Netflix has begun a global demo that displays full-screen advertisements for other shows in-between the episodes of your show.
Cord Cutters News discovered the issue was affecting a number of users by following an angry and popular Reddit Thread that discussed the subject.
And like all ads you’ll see these days, these ads are personalized to the user – they’ll show promotions about programs you would have otherwise seen suggested to you in other parts of Netflix’s interface. For example, it might show ads on one of those “recommended for you” lineups that’s often first on Netflix’s homepage whenever a user opens the app.
This feature is being tested by Netflix in a global experiment that only effects a small percentage of users.
In addition to the distraction, these promos also replace the bits of information previously shown about the next upcoming episode, such as the episode’s title, number, and shortened description.
But Netflix have proven their skill in public relations in the past, and are not about to let this bit of bad press slip past them before they have their say on it. Reaching out to Cord Cutter News, a Netflix representative attempted to explain the inclusion of the new feature:
“At Netflix, we conduct hundreds of tests every year so we can better understand what helps members more easily find something great to watch.”
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 they would enjoy watching even faster.”
“Since then, we have been experimenting even more with video based on personalized recommendations for shows and movies on the service or coming shortly, and continue to learn from our members.”
Netflix restates that the core reasoning behind the new alerts is intended to help users discover new programs that they will enjoy more quickly. In addition, Netflix adds that paying members are by no means required to watch the advertisements and have the ability to skip them at any time.
Despite this, a number of angry, vocal Netflix users have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure over the new addition.
@netflix don't you #$%#$%ing dare interrupt my binge watching with your ads. What's the @#%%ing point of paying for commercials?
— Spon Taneity (@gamegirl180) August 17, 2018
Bruh don’t put ads in between episodes @netflix otherwise I’m unsubscribing
— Dienes stain (@RyanIsTheKing03) August 17, 2018
Wow, @netflix really?! Ads?! What are you some sick people like @Hulu? If I pay for the 4K account I should seriously NEVER see a single ad for anything EVER. I don’t pay you to tell me what content you have. That’s what the damn menu is for. Not cool.
— HighDefDiscNews.com (@HighDefDiscNews) August 17, 2018
The conflict here is pretty clear: Netflix wants to better aid users in finding new shows they like. If they find new shows they like, the consumer will not only gain the value of the show’s entertainment, but that show will gain more views (perhaps even a good review) and Netflix will have a greater chance of retaining that subscriber for longer. Everyone wins.
But according to Netflix, many users are not responding to their already placed recommendations. Netflix is searching for a way to force users to notice these other shows – shows that, if their millions of units of consumer data is to be enjoyed, a consumer might really enjoy.
So Netflix is searching for a way to make their recommendations more active. But their current strategy for doing so – intermittent ads during the post-episode down time – is something that users feel violates the promise of Netflix’s ad-free subscription model.
While the company’s eventual goal to create a more personalized user interface that allows users to quickly find their next beloved program, it’s clear that this approach doesn’t seem to be the right one. Netflix will have to keep experimenting with their ‘recommended shows’ and UI in order to find a system that allows users to find what they’re looking for without diminishing the quality of what they already have.