Netflix subscribers made one thing emphatically clear this weekend: they don’t want anything interrupting their binge viewing.
The streaming service tested a new form of promotion on Friday, in which it inserted videos in between TV episodes. Netflix said it was experimenting with a new way to deliver personalized recommendations to its subscribers.
Not everyone saw it that way. Commenters on a Reddit forum devoted to Netflix blasted the service, claiming, “Netflix forced me to watch an unskippable ad for Better Call Saul.” It wasn’t an ad, and it could be skipped, according to a company spokesperson.
But the Internet outrage machine kicked into full gear.
You get the idea.
Netflix says it conducts hundreds of tests every year to better understand what helps members more easily find something to watch. A couple of years ago, it introduced video previews to the TV experience because it significantly reduced the time subscribers would spend browsing.
Since then, Netflix has experimented even more with video based on personalized recommendations for shows and movies on the service or coming shortly.
“In this particular case, we are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster,” said Netflix spokesperson Smita Saran. “It is important to note that a member is able to skip a video preview at any time if they are not interested.”
It’s unclear how many of Netflix’s 130 million subscribers actually saw the promotions, though the company usually conducts these sorts of tests on a small percentage of its global user base to gauge response before conducting more extensive testing.