Facepalm: Netflix has always prided itself on the lack of advertisements on its platform. By charging users a monthly subscription fee, the service can continue to grow and produce original content without annoying its users - however, some Netflix customers now say the platform is beginning to test unskippable "promos" between episodes of their favorite shows.
Advertising is nothing new on the internet. Very few people like seeing ads, but most understand it's one of the primary ways content providers keep themselves afloat. However, websites like Netflix have attracted users in droves precisely because they don't have ads, unskippable or otherwise. Instead, Netflix charges users a monthly subscription fee for an all-you-can-eat style of content viewing.
To be clear, Netflix isn't testing ads in the traditional sense. Third parties are not promoting their products or services through the platform, and that will likely not change anytime soon. Rather, these promos showcase other content on Netflix, original or otherwise. Naturally, that hasn't stopped users who have been subject to these tests from voicing their frustrations on their social media platform of choice.
@netflix Cancelling my subscription. I pay for Netflix to avoid ads, and now you're running them, unskipppable. No thank you.— Stephen Poole (@PooleStephen) August 17, 2018
Update: Netflix has contacted us to clarify what's going on with this test. They say you can skip the promos (users claim otherwise) which no doubt explain big part of the uproar. While that makes the test more passable, certainly no one is looking for distractions when you're binge-watching your favorite series and are doing back to back episodes. Their official statement is below.
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.
In this particular case, we are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster. It is important to note that a member is able to skip a video preview at anytime if they are not interested.
Whether or not this test becomes a full-blown "feature" remains to be seen though given the reactions we seriously doubt it.