Netflix plans to interrupt your binge session with adverts
Netflix is known for its ease of binge-watching shows. You can spend hours watching your way through your latest guilty pleasure, safe in the knowledge that Netflix won’t throw an ad in your face to spoil your view.
Except, it looks like Netflix is actually going to start doing that right now. As part of a new testing phase, some Netflix users are being served BBC-style adverts for Netflix’s original content between shows. The idea is to get people interested in other content on the service and work as another method of recommendations.
The news came to light not after Netflix announced the test, but after a Reddit user flagged the issue saying “Netflix forced me to watch an unskippable ad for ‘Better Call Saul’”. Netflix responded by issuing a statement to Cord Cutters, saying “we are testing whether surfacing recommendation between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”
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Interestingly, it also stated that “it is important to note that a member is able to skip a video preview at any time if they are not interested,” something that is at direct odds with what was posted to Reddit. Still, unskippable or not, it’s understandable that users paying up to £9.99 a month to watch shows at their own leisure don’t want to have adverts interrupting their viewing. It’s already insulting enough when Netflix asks us if we’re still watching a show, let alone dragging out the process by cramming it with adverts.
Thankfully, it looks as if Netflix isn’t looking to bring in external company advertisements to Netflix any time soon. Speaking in an earnings call back in January, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that, while the company was performing “city-level, country-level experiments” with data, he rules out using advertisements from external companies as a “core differentiator” between Netflix and normal TV.
Hastings then double-downed on his view in an investor post later in January saying that Netflix is “about flat-fee unlimited viewing commercial-free.”
To further clarify what Netflix is up to with its latest test, a Netflix spokesperson explained that it’s an evolution of the video preview service that was rolled out a couple of years ago. After having seen that video previews significantly cut down the time members spent browsing through shows the company has been looking for another way to speed up this process.
“We have been experimenting even more with video based on personalised recommendations for shows and movies on the service or coming shortly, and continue to learn from our members,” said the spokesperson. “In this particular case we are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”
If you’ve started to see these adverts creep into your Netflix experience and you don’t want them to, you can opt out. If you head to netflix.com/donottest with your login, you’ll be able to remove yourself from Netflix’s testing pool.