Netflix is a paid video streaming platform and when you pay for a service like this, you usually don’t expect your binge watching experience to be mired by ads. We know that Netflix prioritises the visibility of its originally produced content on the platform, and has tested pre-roll promotions in the past. But as of now, the binge-watching experience on the platform is pretty seamless and is not interrupted by advertisements.
This might change soon if Netflix implements a new feature it has admitted to testing. A group of Netflix users in UK reportedly started seeing unskippable ads between episodes. First reported by Cord Cutter News, some Netflix users also took to Reddit to express their displeasure about seeing promotional ads while binge-watching shows on Netflix. These ads tease Netflix’s own original programming and other content on the platform and Netflix has admitted that the testing is being conducted to surface “recommendations” for users.
Netflix, however, added that these promotional recommendations that appear in between episodes are skippable and users will be able to press a ‘Continue’ button at any time to skip the promos and move on to the content they were watching. Redditors who spotted the promos still maintain that they are unable to skip them. As a result, many have complained that these promos are intrusive and hamper the binge-watching experience.
“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,” Netflix told Cord Cutter in a statement.
One of the features that Netflix always likes to stress upon is personalisation on the platform. The service recommends content to its users by analysing their watch history and also taking into account their likes and dislikes registered through the thumbs-up and thumbs-down rating system which replaced the platform’s traditional star ratings last year. Another example of personalised recommendations on Netflix can be seen when one finishes watching a show or a movie as the service always suggests what to watch next. This feature has also been criticised by users who perceive it as an ad and not a “recommendations”.