For TV content producers, on-air TV promos have always been a fuzzy line. Those screen efforts are seen as “commercials” to many, but also “entertainment.”
Netflix has bought into this, as an experiment, but with dubious initial results to date.
The ad-free subscription video platform is running promos -- commercials to many -- of movies and TV shows, including scripted and non-scripted programming, during episodes of shows.
Some of this is not new: When one scrolls through Netflix’s programming selection interface for a TV show or movie, video trailers are automatically played for a short time.
So what’s the big deal? Aren’t consumers watching just more entertainment? Perhaps.
But now, this comes before selecting a TV show — and one can quickly scroll to the next show to skip it. This has not occurred during the running of a specific TV episode.
As a result, some Netflix viewers are not happy. Here’s a tweet from Xenia, according to The New York Times: “Whyyy am i seeing commercials for shows i dont wanna watch in between episodes of a show i do wanna watch??”
Worse for Xenia, she can’t skip these commercials or mute those announcements. And Netflix has said it will never offer advertising amid its entertainment content.
Why is Netflix doing this? It’s about growth -- in particular higher viewing of its content. Netflix's financial concerns are largely bout getting more subscribers -- in the U.S. and worldwide. But at some point it will hit a wall.
That's why, for many years, traditional TV experts believed Netflix needed to find an advertising component.
Think about Hulu -- a Netflix competitor. It started as an ad-supported subscription video-on-demand service, and then added a commercial-free service -- at a higher monthly price.
Netflix says it is testing the waters. Still, it should be aware of its subscribers’ experiences.
In 2011, Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, upset customers when he announced the company would be splitting its mail DVD rental business and growing streaming service business into two services -- leading to a higher price.
It soon quickly abandoned those plans.
Still, even a whiff of change could mean some might hit Netflix's "yes” on-screen prompt when it comes to this question: “Would you like to exit Netflix now?”