Netflix Tests Linear TV Channel In France

Netflix's aversion to ad-supported programming is well known. But perhaps less so when it comes to a live, linear TV channel.

Why? For all Netflix’s efforts to make it easy for subscribers to watch TV shows and movies, potential viewers spend way too much time looking for shows to watch in the first place.

In France, Netflix is experimenting with a linear TV network, called Direct, one with scheduled TV shows. Why France? Linear TV networks are still amazingly popular there — and these viewers don’t like searching for shows.

From Netflix's point of view, there is still a lot to be said for traditional channel-surfing behavior -- pretty much the way TV consumers responded to weak or iffy TV programs before 2000.

Cynics might think this could be the start of more Netflix transitions: If Netflix finds some success with a live, linear TV network, could it then experiment with -- you guessed it -- a few commercials that might run before and after a TV program or movie?



Let’s not get ahead ourselves. But let’s examine what does exist.

When you open the Netflix app, users get Netflix’s electronic program guide/user interface -- which comes with advertising, albeit entertainment TV/movie promo advertising -- of new or highly touted content.

For decades, traditional TV networks have aired day and date advertising of TV series on their own airwaves, telling viewers when, where and what is coming.

Netflix doesn’t offer this, per se.

As an on-demand service, it does advertise big TV series/movies more broadly (on traditional TV networks). The difference is Netflix could be found marketing a new season of “Emily in Paris,” since consumers know they can stream it.

All this comes as Netflix's subscriber growth -- especially in the U.S. -- slows, and with that, brings slower revenue potential

The bottom line for Netflix is getting more subscribers to make quicker decisions, which, in turn, means more data for Netflix to establish trends about what kind of shows it should be producing/acquiring.

Beyond that, testing a linear TV network seems to be more of what a traditional HBO or Showtime premium cable networks looks like -- one without advertising. Netflix just needs to find more viewers who have a phobia about the TV remote -- apart from the power and volume controls.

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