Some Netflix users took to Reddit and Twitter today (via TechCrunch) to complain about this new test feature, which interrupts binge watching sessions by inserting "full-screen videos, personalized to the user, featuring content Netflix would have otherwise suggested elsewhere in its user interface" in between episodes. The promo displaced the usual card previewing the next episode in the series, and recommended featured content, much in the way Netflix now does on its home page. At the time of publishing, the ads have only appeared on the streaming service in countries outside of the US.
In a statement to ArsTecnica, Netflix said, "We are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster". Should Netflix continue to promote its tv shows between episodes? "It is important to note that a member is able to skip a video preview at anytime if they are not interested". Netflix did not confirm to Ars whether this new advertising initiative would be limited to specific platforms (smart TVs, game consoles, etc.) or territories, nor how long this "testing" period might last. The streaming service, whose greatest appeal is arguably the fact that it doesn't have any ads, has begun experimenting with displaying ads at a certain point during a person's binge-watch session.
However, the introduction of ads in between an episode is not a feature which Netflix is rolling out to the users, rather, it is among one of the many tests which Netflix runs every year.
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According to the spokesperson, the test is temporary and only affects a small subset of users. The ad featured a timer on the corner, similar to YouTube ads, but users weren't given the option to skip.
This test is now live for a small percentage of Netflix's global audience.
In other words, Netflix seems to believe that actions and advertising clicks are more material than social media complaints from their customer base.
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