Netflix testing between-episode promos, despite viewer grumbles

Tim Maytom

Netflix has begun testing promotional videos for its original content that play between episodes of shows a viewer is streaming. The full-screen videos, which are personalised to the user, feature content that would also be promoted elsewhere on the platform.

The test was first spotted by Cord Cutters News, who found a Reddit thread filled with complaints by Netflix users. A number of subscribers have also taken to Twitter to complain about the promotional videos, which displace preview information for the show being watched.

Netflix has confirmed that the tests are occurring, but at the moment the video promos are only live for a small percentage of Netflix's subscriber base, and may not go any further than that. Netflix runs hundreds of tests every year, many of which aim to improve engagement with its original programming.

"At Netflix, we conduct hundreds of tests every year so we can better understand what helps members more easily find something great to watch," said a Netflix spokesperson. "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 personalised 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."

So far, consumer reaction to the ads has been overwhelmingly negative, with many pointing to the fact that Netflix is a paid subscription service, not an ad-supported one, and as a result, viewers expect an uninterrupted viewing experience. While the mid-episode promos may not be substantially different to those which might play upon a user first entering the app, their disruptive nature clearly annoys some of those who have seen them.