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Netflix's UX design is keeping people up at night (adobe.com)
197 points by wallflower on Dec 27, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 188 comments

Does that really work on people? (Rhetorical questions, they wouldn't have been doing it this long otherwise) How?

I feel like Netflix is trying its hardest to stop me from watching.

Usually at the top is some show I have no interest in. That takes up most of the screen preventing me from seeing things I might be interested in.

Then I see My List: 1 show with new episodes. Great. It just happens to be the show they wasted over 50% of their website telling me about. Onward: A bunch of shows that I finished watching and that are either canceled, finished or have no new episodes. Why would I want this information?

Next line, "Continue Watching": 2 shows that I found so bad I stopped watching them (The Witcher and Criminal: Germany here)

Next line, "European Mind Game TV Shows". Sounds good. One show I might eventually watch. 3 shows I already watched… on Netflix. 2 shows that I think I checked and disliked but can't say for sure because Netflix keeps changing their covers. I'd rather spend the time ranting about their dumb UI than being annoyed by re-checking the synopsis for a show I decided against.

Trending Now: 5 shows I didn't like (where is that "Never annoy me with this cheap shit again"-button?), one that might be interesting.

So, Netflix used up 2 pages on a Full HD Monitor and with careful checking I realized one show I like has new episodes, and one new show could be interesting. But I don't usually expend this much effort into finding something to watch. So instead I usually find a new show elsewhere and only use the search or a meta stream search to find out if something is on Netflix and don't bother otherwise.

The only site I know with a worse UX than Netflix is Amazon Prime Video. Yet I keep reading that their design improves engagement, do people not care what they watch and instead just rewatch everything all the time? I really don't get it.

Someone once pointed out to me how "engagement" is often misread by companies. The product team makes a change to their website or app and suddenly engagement skyrockets. They think, "Wow! That change really got people to use our product. Let's do more!" when, in reality, the change they made is initially so confusing that their users spend more time than they would otherwise just trying to find their way around all the new changes. This, coupled with new product owners, product managers, and executives who feel like they need to justify their positions and the easiest way to do that is to "improve" the product and we have a negative feedback loop that is perceived by everyone within the company as a virtuous cycle. All the while they're just pissing their customers off.

The experienced managers know that the difference, but others could either be easily fooled or gaming the statistics to help boost their internal politics standing.

The bigger problem is when these engagement bumps are valid but destroy long term value in the cohort. The auto binge optimization makes viewers more cautious about opening the Netflix app altogether.

This happens with things like fast food restaurants. Subway expanded rapidly, and then tried holding up their sales with discounts. How long can someone eat at Subway weekly or daily before they never want to go there again? The bar is so high, you are way betting off starting a new franchise brand than trying things like removing yoga mat chemicals from your bread or hiring a new mascot who isn’t a child rapist.

> How long can someone eat at Subway weekly or daily before they never want to go there again?

Bread is one of only a very few foods that seem to be immune to "food exhaustion", the tendency to want to stop eating something you've been eating. (Milk is another, but I have a feeling that only applies to lactose-tolerant people.)

So if you varied the fillings, probably indefinitely. How long can you have cereal for breakfast before you never want to eat cereal again?

It's not just bread, though. It's subway.

I believe the veggie option is still yesterdays hummus crudely spread around a bun with bell peppers, black olives, an raw onions. The meats are cafeteria tier, in fact I think the meatball sub recipe is the exact slop served in my old dining hall.

They undermined their masterful subliminal marketing on the entire millennial generation by raising the $5 foot long sub to near chipotle bowl price points, and in my city at least cheap excellent street food is already on every corner.

I only ever settle for subway, it's not a destination.

I happen to agree about subway, but that's a personal taste that immediately implies it shouldn't be able to run a store in the first place. "This is terrible food" just isn't the same argument as "it's good, but you get tired of it after a month". High sales that taper off aren't compatible with the first.

About a couple of weeks, twenty days max.


A/B testing causes way more bad decisions than good ones because people run the tests wrong and they interpret the data wrong.

But I've found explaining that to people to be an uphill battle. They get sold on an "objective" way to optimize the UI and then don't want to hear that the method is actually very subjective when not done correctly. And it's hard to execute and interpret correctly so every A/B test I've seen ran has been very subjective.

Haha. So I'll do better than the average company doing A/B testing by simply avoiding the methodology altogether? That's nice to know.

I'm a huge believer in the "expert product manager" route.

Meaning have one person who talks to all the stakeholders and every type of user. Who just knows your product backwards and forwards. And thus can drive what changes you need to make to push things forward.

What exactly the means depends on the nature of the product.

I wonder if autoplay was just a scheme to bump up these numbers for shareholders? Frequently, I'd used to leave my xbox running netflix, because the xbox takes 5 mins to start up, and just shut off the TV. Not anymore now that it would watch an entire made for netflix movie in the background and start polluting the feed with innumerable potemkin netflix series I'd never even heard of. Engagement while I'm sleeping in bed.

> I feel like Netflix is trying its hardest to stop me from watching.

Indeed. I just cancelled my Netflix subscription. I signed up as soon as possible when Netflix launched in my country, and I've been running the 4k plan since they launched it.

But for a while now, every time I've launched Netflix I've felt actively put off watching something. By far the most annoying thing is that they play trailers or the movie when I'm just trying to read what the film is about. Most of the time I ended up watching something else.

A couple of weeks ago I figured I'd vote with my wallet and cancelled, listing the autoplay as the reason for cancelling.

Maybe one day they'll get to their senses, though I'm not holding my breath.

There may be regional differences. However, in Germany it is possible to disable auto play for episodes and trailers in the settings.

The one setting we have here in Norway is only for when credits are rolling. The one that really drives me up the wall, and the sole reason I cancelled, is the one that's pre-movie.

It starts playing trailers when you're in the library and linger for a brief second on a movie, or starts the actual movie if you click on the movie to read more about it.

That is truly obnoxious. The only thing that makes it tolerable is that you can mute the trailers when browsing using the website.

Same in Greece, it's just very well hidden. I discovered it by accident one day.

I’m usually pretty good at finding hidden options like that, and I ended up canceling Netflix because of the automatic previews as well. If there’s a way to disable it now, I might come back.

The automatic previews are terrible, yeah. I haven't found an option for those, I'm afraid.

Autoplay is indeed very annoying. If at least it was muted...

Another annoying feature is that you can't opt-in to 4K HDR per device. Our main TV is an OLED display which is great for 4K HDR but on the bedroom we have a lower quality 4K TV with really bad HDR. I'd rather watch Netflix on that TV in 1080p without HDR. Or what if your connection can handle 4K but it consumes all your bandwidth and someone else needs to do a skype or something.

> Autoplay is indeed very annoying. If at least it was muted...

If I understand correctly, you can mute autoplay - there's a volume icon to the left of the age rating of the screen (mid-right. You won't hear any autoplay sound again, for any session, until you click on it again.

Thanks for the suggestion but I've looked around but I don't see any speaker icon on the LG app. I guess it's different depending on the app and maybe even the country.

Yes, forced quality setting is another pet peeve. For me I'd rather wait for the 1080p or 4K to buffer than to have the start ruined by crappy 360p, just to enable insta-play.

> By far the most annoying thing is that they play trailers or the movie when I'm just trying to read what the film is about.

Many times I just want to see when the movie was made and who the actors are.

Partly it's to make it seem like the platform has more content than it actually does. Netflix has been losing streaming rights like nobody's business, so if it removed all of the shows you've already watched or watched a bit of and didn't like, the platform would start feeling pretty empty pretty quickly.

You forgot the "recommended for you" section that contains all movies in a foreign language because you accidentally watched an artsy noir movie six months ago and didn't realize it was subtitled until almost 30 minutes into it because there was no dialog.

> because you accidentally watched an artsy noir movie six months ago and didn't realize it was subtitled until almost 30 minutes into it because there was no dialog.

This is a really weird thing to do, and a really weird basis for complaint about ML recommenders. I'd imagine that 99.9% of people who watched _30 minutes_ of an artsy foreign-language noir film are people who are inclined to enjoy artsy noir films (or at least trying it out). The only reasonable complaint here is that recommender systems can be overly sticky when they don't provide a way to provide strong negative feedback (eg YouTube's "not interested" option).

If you have 3 movies on your history, and one is an artsy one that you got away after 30 minutes, the evidence is pointing that you like artsy movies, but didn't like this one.

If you have 100 movies on your history, and one is an artsy one that you got away after 30 minutes, the evidence is pointing that you will not like anything else like it.

I know I've accidentally done it before. There's enough movies that take place in international locations that it isn't uncommon for a movie to start out subtitled while setting up the plot, then switch over to English with the main character. For the movie I watched, there was nothing in Netflix saying it's a foreign language movie, and after watching the movie for a while, I looked it up online to see if the whole movie is subtitled. If I had known the entire movie was subtitled, I'd have never started it, but Netflix doesn't tell you that in the description.

Tangent: I find subtitles easier to follow than audio dialogue. My biggest complaint about subtitles, if I were going to complain, would be that they draw my attention so much that I might miss visuals appearing elsewhere on the screen. I don't really understand why people object to them.

But this does appear to be a minority position.

This isn't Netflix specific, but I really hate how subtitles often spoil plot elements, sometimes very important ones.

For example, in a scene the main character might see a new person for the first time. There's nothing in the movie so far to indicate that the main character knows the other person. Yet the subtitles may reveal that other characters name when the subtitled dialog goes "CARL: Hello there", which might ruin an important plot point.

I really don't understand why they keep doing this.

The subtitle writers should learn a lesson from the people who write audio descriptions for the blind. At least in the best audio descriptions, a person's name isn't mentioned in the description until after it's mentioned in the dialogue. Until then, they'll say "the tall man" or whatever.

And when you actually try to search for a noir movie you get exactly 2 noir movies and then a bunch of other movies you wonder why they are there. I guess they just fill the page of any search by random titles.

Machine learning is taking over the world.

And it sucks 99% of the time

aka "artificial stupidity"

"it wasn't us it was the model"

That's what I was thinking as well. There seems to be a "dislike" button missing in the UI. If I am not interested in a movie/show, I should be able to stop it from wasting my screen real estate. There can be separate section for dislike list which the user can edit if needed.

That exists. It's the thumbs down button. Granted, I'm unsure whether they use it to reprioritize the specific show/film, or the entire genre / broader category, or both.

That button infuriates me, as it appears to do nothing except grey out the cover of the show - the show is still shown in my "currently watching", it comes up in "trending", and it's even in my "recommended" section!

What was the point of even providing me the option? I suspect it might be part of an A/B test to see how many people engage with a button that does nothing. I absolutely loathe this sort of dark pattern but I have yet to convince a manager that "gathering data!" is bad thing...

That button is for rating the movie/show after you watched it. I want to apriori eliminate items before even attempting to watch them.

Except they're using that rating to influence what you're recommended, even if you don't watch (which they're also tracking). They document more of this than I expected.


>>If you liked a TV show or movie, give it a "thumbs up." If you didn't like a TV show or movie, give it a "thumbs down."

True, it does affect their recommendations but still the inherent purpose of a thumbs down is to tell them I watched it but didn't like. I would love for them to provide a "not interested" option as well.

Considering Netflix's infuriating decision to reduce the 5-star rating to the thumbs-up/down, I highly doubt they'll be adding any more buttons soon.

Edit: I continue to have hope that some higher-ups from Netflix are reading these comments, and someday will create a GUI for "pros" and a GUI for everyone else (as it is now), where the "pro" version allows at least some level of customization beyond this dark-pattern insanity.

Twitch has "I am not interested in " button, but when you investigate deeper under under https://www.twitch.tv/settings/recommendations it turns out to be a ROLLING FILO list limited to ~100 entries :D

YT "not interested" is similar but worse, forgets your dislikes after few days.

I'm the same. It has never once recommended something I'd actually consider watching. And the rest of the UI is so openly user-hostile that I can't bear using it. In particular, playing video if I pause too long on any one show. Baffling that they won't let you turn that off. And it's so difficult to just look for new stuff!

i've had similar complaints in the past, though my real pain point has been Hulu on AppleTv. i cannot stand the UX, despite actively training myself on how to navigate the UI. the UX of many AppleTv app implementations has been less than stellar in my opinion. i will say this has driven me straight into the "just talk at it" workflow...which for brings its own set of struggles.

The autoplaying of the thumbnail thing has me flitting around in the UI so it doesn't trigger, because I think not-as-worse when I am flitting compared to when I am trying to focus on something and the video is blaring.

I almost feel like there should be an ADA lawsuit against the top streaming video purveyors to have a low tech distraction free consistent interface. Just give me the full catalog in XML format or SQLite, I'll do the rest.

> Next line, "Continue Watching": 2 shows that I found so bad I stopped watching them

At least your "continue watching" is relevant; mine tends to show movies I already watched in full, with a progress bar showing them being 98% done. Well, that last 2% is obviously the ending credits. Perhaps people over at Netflix do watch the couple of minutes of names rolling on black screen. I don't.

I wonder if that's intentional, as it's not the first occurrence.

For example, movies that the user has already watched keep showing in the grid. If one stops watching a series mid-season, there's no immediate way of preventing the show from displaying in the list of current movies (removing the entire series from history works, but it's not immediate, and it's too drastic).

If I want to expand on a movie, rather than watching it, the area I can click on is tiny compared to the whole banner surface.

I think all of those are patterns of a strategy to shove content down the user's throat - it makes sense from a (dishonest) business perspective.

This has been going on for as long as I had an xbox netflix app, going back to the 360. Whats worse is that if you try to watch a series it picks up from 95% done on the episode you just finished. Feels like the VHS days.

They don’t have the timestamps set up correctly for all of their content, it’s supposed to count as ‘watched’ once you reach the credits.

Here is a blog post from Netflix staff members where they explain the recommendations: https://medium.com/netflix-techblog/netflix-recommendations-... . It's from 2012 so things might very well have changed since then.

apenwarr talks about this on his blog. He claims Netflix purposely switched from a good recommendation algorithm to a worse one after the transition from their DVD-by-mail days to their streaming offering. See https://apenwarr.ca/log/20190201 (find the section titled "Netflix").

I recommend reading that section (or even the whole article, though the main point of the article is something only tangentially related), but I'll try to summarize.

The argument goes that Netflix doesn't need to find the best movie or TV show for you; instead it tries to find one that is just good enough for you, but at the same time good enough for lots of other people too (apparently in your case they fail at that). From their standpoint it doesn't matter if you watch something you really really like instead of something mildly entertaining: Netflix noted that the probability of people cancelling depends on the number of hours they watch Netflix content, not on the quality of that content.

Nudging people to select what they watch out of a smaller pool of offerings enables them to save on bandwidth costs because a lot of content can be served out of distributed caches.

There's a word for it even, apparently: "satisficing" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satisficing). It doesn't work for everyone: it doesn't work for you, and it mostly doesn't work for me (I don't watch a lot of Netflix, and when I do it's mostly based on recommendation from friends or online sources). And I'm not sure how it works in the long term.

Netflix used to be better, I always felt like they were making their UX actively worse over time. So I'd prefer whatever they did back in 2012.

What never worked was recommendations. The first time I signed up for them, I actively voted on shows I had already watched (and clicked the button that still existed back then that told them I had already watched something), ranked genres, downvoted things I had no interest in. Only for netflix to ignore 99% of what I just spent an hour telling them.

In the article, Morley focuses on the UX which appears within five seconds of the end of a show's episode, forcing viewers to quickly choose whether to watch the next.

She doesn't discuss the top level discovery UX.

> Personalized suggestions on Netflix or Amazon (in sections like “Because You Watched Working Moms…”) provide me with shows I’m more likely to binge; they work to cut down my browsing time so that I hit play quickly. Other categories like “Crime” might seem generic, but the algorithm is tailored to my specific preferences within that category.

>Onward: A bunch of shows that I finished watching and that are either canceled, finished or have no new episodes. Why would I want this information?

Because original content is expensive. There's not that much of it, and people do actually tend to repeat watch stuff. Most people are happier watching another episode of Friends than turning on something they've got no emotional bond with, haven't seen before and won't really pay attention to.

It's a little frustrating how difficult it is for the HN community (taken overall) to understand that their preferences aren't universal. I think there's a really interesting conversation to be had here about intentional or unintentional dark patterns, and where the line is between filling the user's needs and steering their activity for the company's benefit. But it's muddled by the fact that half the conversation is "I have this specific preference and Netflix is obviously evil or incompetent for not adhering to it, other users be damned".

(To be clear, this isn't direct criticism of the GP comment, which is high-quality overall)

> The only site I know with a worse UX than Netflix is Amazon Prime Video.

I've read this in a lot of places. My personal experience with this has been quite the opposite. Amazon's UX has no parallel, and I don't really mean it in a good way. It's just unique in how it lays out things. Once I got the hang of how it works, after that "aha" moment it became way more navigable.

Huh. Just went to the overview for the first time in a few months. It's much better than before and not item by season, randomized anymore.

They are now finally better than Netflix (in that regard).

Now they need to get a better player and stop it with louder-than-the-shows-I'm-watching adverts in German and clearly mark the shows they don't have English subs/dubs for and I'd be happy (well, as far as I know, they don't have as much data as, because of the bad experience, I often ended up looking for others sources than prime video)

What about other streaming services? For me, the issue isn’t with Netflix but with YouTube

YT seems pretty bad, but I can't really speak of it as I dislike videos and prefer text (TV shows are pretty much the only videos I watch). I sometimes watch music videos on YT, but that tends to just mean clicking on the first result for my search.

YouTube is great. It recommends related videos that are actually related and often interesting, and the amount of good quality content on there seems much higher than Netflix. There is also effectively no DRM and you can watch it in your favourite video player. You can subscribe to channels you are actually interested in and view a feed of new videos only from those channels, with no algorithm trying to pressure you into watching anything else.

I spend about five seconds looking at Netflix to see if any shows I watch have new episodes. It’s pretty good at getting them near the top. It’s not really a ui problem that the vast majority of shows on Netflix suck.

> The only site I know with a worse UX than Netflix is Amazon Prime Video.

Amazon Prime Video has exceptionally bad UX. But then again Amazon shopping experience is also rather abysmal.

I'm in Germany, most of the problems I read about here did not yet arrive in Germany luckily.

Maybe on some people. Personally for me it's getting harder to find stuff to watch because of changes they made. Actually considering dropping them.

Same here. They need something to hook people into watching something long. Most people are OK binging youtube because popular videos have a sweet spot in their lengths.

People like to watch trailers.

They need to fill the first row of titles with trailers. People need to get hooked via these trailers. Hell, they need to hype their future show with trailers.

Netflix I know you are reading this.

I'm people too, just not a in the middle if the bell curve people. I'm curious, why do you go to a in the middle of the bell curve type of service to find fringe material? It's not served from there.

I bet you say you don't get affected by ads either. You think you're in control but you're not. We're all just sheep.

I agree, if I had to guess which dark patterns Netflix is deploying to their apps. It would probably be striking a balance between having a subscription and offering just enough to satisfy me. This way I won't cancel and they can play the "is this content a hit?" game. People don't really care about UI, they just want something that works. It doesn't even have to work well.

The author, Madeleine Morley, of this very well-written article seems to be working against her own best interest as far as sleep goes.


> I’ve always required television to get to sleep, and I’m not a good sleeper.

> Why watch the same thing if there was all this newness to explore? My nighttime viewing hours grew later and later.

> For those of us who used television as a sleep aid, we now seem to be facing a new phenomenon.

> All these streamlined UX features mean that when I’m tucked in bed in the dark, I barely need to think about what to watch when I’m trying to get myself to sleep.

I understand the idea of television as a sleep aid. I used to use music in the same way. But I don't think the Netflix UI is as great a contributor to Morley's issues with sleep as much as her sleep hygiene which uses "television as a sleep aid", an oxymoron at best.

I used to do this as a kid. In my family everyone was watching a television at almost all times when we were home. Naturally it was there when we would go to bed.

I recognized this was a terrible pattern. I began shutting off the tv when I was going to bed. Eventually I moved the television out of my bedroom.

This is learned behavior and it can be unlearned. There's one simple solution to the problem posed in this article. Get the tv out of your room; it's not doing anything positive for you and I'm fairly certain you won't crave to have it back once it's gone.

I heard an anecdote that there's a Feng Shui ritual to exorcise the demon that harms sleep.

They perform the ritual and then take the TV out of the room.

As someone who used to regularly fall asleep to TV, it wasn't just a learned behavior. I have a very overactive mind without stimulus it tends to get to work, but with something like TV sitcoms I'm not particularly interested in my mind empties and lets me get into a sleep mode. Despite not having a TV in the bedroom for years I still have issues if I try to go lay in bed right away, so it may not be so simple for OP

What I've learned helps me is watching TV / listening to music while laying on the couch, and moving into the bedroom with a dim light once I feel myself drifting. Still, I often fall asleep next to the TV, but its better than tossing and turning half the time until I have to take melatonin to force my body to fall asleep

For me, the Netflix user interface is a horrible experience that blocks me from finding the series I want to see.

- I want vertical browsing - I want to be able to remove items from the list, mark them "not interested"

Maybe some people prefer this layout. Fine! Make it optional. Give us the "pro" user interface as an option in the menu. My bet is all Netflix programmers want one. I can't imagine that there is one Netflix programmer who thinks this interface is how they would make it. This interface screams "marketing". Fuck those guys.

They are deliberately not providing the tabular list, categorization, and other features that most people would find useful. Most likely reason is, it would quickly reveal to broader audience how much content they really have and also how quickly they disappear.

I think the most likely reason is that highly functional and customizable interfaces remove the ability of marketers to implement coercive experiences like the article discusses. I see this all over the internet and apps. What used to be standard customization options are becoming rare. How can a company A/B test something if users are running hundreds of different customized versions of an interface? Better to keep things as standardized as possible to ensure the desired experience and facilitate fine-tuning.

Ultimately lazy. Everything can be controlled. Give me a list view, I block trackers anyway and am already not helping improve the quality of the data set.

Maybe I'm just pining for a streaming service in the terminal program.

This is exact;y what was stated to me by a friend who actually works at netflix.

Netflix's UI is designed to:

1) obfuscate its surprisingly shallow library

2) encourage user interaction (more telemetry data)

3) promote Netflix original content

As a user, I don't want any of this. A small cottage industry of alternative Netflix UIs has popped up, because sometimes you just want some good old fashioned filters and sorts.

A few examples:




> 1) obfuscate its surprisingly shallow library

A thousand times, this. Netflix should take all the money they are spending on ML to solve a discovery problem that they don't even have, and instead buy up rights to flicks from the period 1950-2010. A lot of these movies can't be streamed or downloaded anywhere - the only legal way to get them is to pay a grossly inflated price for the DVD on Amazon. This is actually a massive archival problem, and I would love to see someone tackle it. Unfortunately, it almost certainly won't be one of the current major streaming platforms.

Most of those rights to flicks from 1950-2010 are owned by:

(1) Competitors (eg. Disney+)

(2) Studios leasing the rights to competitors (eg. Amazon)

(3) Studios that want to expand into the new streaming market (all the rest).

The remaining few indie or abandoned flicks are not really worth it.

To be fair, I oversimplified the problem. Every film's rights are owned by someone, and the problem wouldn't be solved entirely by Netflix merely throwing money at it. But the fact remains that there are a lot of great films from this period that as far as I can tell (and for some I've looked pretty hard) are not available for streaming on any platform - YouTube, Mubi, Netflix, Prime, iTunes, etc etc. [0]

The problem is worse if A) you're not in the US and B) you are interested in stuff that wasn't a box office top 100 hit.

It's an empirical question as to whether, as you say "the remaining few indie or abandoned flicks are not really worth it." Netflix has certainly decided that this is the case, but it's not obvious to me that they're right.

[0] https://www.engadget.com/2018/08/10/missing-movies-not-avail...

The ridiculous thing is that the DVD side of Netflix used to be an amazing source for these kinds of films

It still is; for those in the USA only.


> for those in the USA only

Key distinction

>A thousand times, this. Netflix should take all the money they are spending on ML to solve a discovery problem that they don't even have,

Really? I often find myself learning about Netflix stuff I want to watch only from friends telling it to me, and then having to seek it out in the search function.

This is the biggest problem. I have different profiles for family members. Some members get so many more good new shows that don't appear in my profile.

Their library isn’t that big. If it wasn’t suggested to you and you could actually just look through their library you’d have found those titles. Disney+, Hulu, HBO, and other streaming services do this and it works fine even when they also offer suggestions.

I used to be able to find things to watch on Netflix when they had publicly visible reviews. Then they removed that, presumably to hock their less than stellar original content. They optimize to try and show you as much crap as possible, which is the real reason you can't find good stuff on your own -- it's not the lack of some personalized algorithmic magic that's responsible here.

I agree. FFS in my country I can see the 1st and the 3rd LOTR movies but not the 2nd.

One can find many of those films on YouTube to rent for $2.99-$3.99, which is cheaper than Blockbuster used to be (adjusted for inflation) and much more convenient.

To be clear: I love this business model. This is how I watch films for the most part. But while lots of films are available this way, just as many are not. And many of these are not some obscure indie film - they are acclaimed mid-to-high budget Hollywood films that, for no good reason, are trapped in IP purgatory.

I will add a little side data point to this. Season 4 of Morty showed up in a lot of locations except US, Canada, UK.

They are a public company now. I find it hard to believe they could not afford US licensing deal.

And since they actively enforce their geofencing, the shallow library argument becomes even more apparent.

I really dislike streaming wars. We are basically reinventing cable. Any moment I expect unskippable ads in the middle of the show for all paid plans and people defending them as.. it is only 30 seconds..

It's not Netflix's fault.

Netflix revealed a way to monetize the long tail of media content, owned by big studios. To those big studios, Netflix is just a middleman; they'll raise rates until Netflix has no profit left, or give discounts where there's a marketing tie-in (this is why the earlier movie shows up in Netflix when the sequel is on in the cinema - it won't hang around for too long though).

This structure is why Netflix is turning into yet another cable channel. There's no network effect beyond an install base and a bunch of customers paying monthly - not nothing, but also not actually much of a moat if users are using things like Amazon Firestick or something else that apps can easily be added to.

If anything, copyright is the problem. Copyright ought to enable rent extraction to cover the cost of production and a healthy profit premium to encourage quality and have hits that cover losses. But beyond a certain point (and it's measured in years for cinema, not decades) the output probably ought to be considered cultural capital and have capped and non-discriminatory broadcast and streaming costs.

I can agree that copyright is the main culprit, but I am not willing to absolve Netflix from the choices they make. Just as you pointed out, those choices appear to a part of their generap strategy.

All that said, as a customer I don't care. I have been spoiled by near instant access to anything I want free of ads. If Netflix does not want my money, someone else will.

And if no one else will, then that is how we get piracy.

To sum up, I really do not disagree with you. I just think customers are less tolerant today.

The current copyright system is beyond messed up. Locking up IP for multiple generations is just downright pro-corporate nonsense, and we mostly have Disney to thank for it.

Criterion Channel has been great for this.

A major symptom of #1 is that there is no way to 'hide' content you're not interested in or any indication of what you've already watched. So I'm forced to endure giant, autoplaying banner ads for shows I know 100% I will never, ever watch.

Yea my 60 year old dad always complains why they can’t have a “never show me this again” because he’s tired of scrolling through all the garbage.

It’s a shame there aren’t more dictatorial Jobs-esque CEOs striking out all the bullshit vanity-metric-chasing the upper/middle managers will do if you let them. The world would be a better place.

Why don't you just "dislike" such content? I understand that that's probably not how one is supposed to use such a feature, but that has been working pretty well to hide unwanted content for me.

For me personally, disliking content only has the effect of graying-out the suggested material; it still stays there for eternity.

I never understand the complaint of a small library for Netflix... there are way more things to watch than I have time for. More things are coming out than I can watch.

Who are these people who watch so much stuff they run out of things to watch.

I think watching TV has shifted to "I wonder what's on, that looks interesting I'll watch that" to "There's a million things on, but I just want to watch X, and if X is not available then there may as well be 0 things on".

I used to go to Netflix for a few core shows (and still do) but they've slowly moved off. 30 Rock, Buffy, Sunny in Philly - all are gone, which means the number of shows I actually care to watch on Netflix was cut in about half.

They may have a million other titles, but it's extremely rare that I'm in a "browse and pick something" mood these days.

It's also why I hate the fragmentation. All 3 of those shows are from different networks - one day they will all be on their own respective subscription based websites. And I'm gonna just go back to pirating.

> 30 Rock, Buffy, Sunny in Philly

> It's also why I hate the fragmentation. All 3 of those shows are from different networks - one day they will all be on their own respective subscription based websites.

All 3 of those shows are on Hulu, so you only need to sign up for one additional subscription. So far. I expect that the fragmentation will only get worse from here.

I subscribe to Hulu (Always Sunny, Brooklyn 99, Bob's Burgers, Rick and Morty), Netflix (Black Mirror, Arrested Development, Bojack Horseman, Great British Baking Show), and Disney+ (The Mandalorian). I'm paying $31 a month for these subscriptions. I keep wondering if I'd be better off buying DVDs/Blu-rays and ripping them all to a plex server instead, but that seems like a lot of work, even if it would pay off in the long run.

'So Far' is the key. They also used to all be on Netflix.

Money isn't an issue, it's mostly just annoying to have N services to juggle. Pirating's really easy - I use exactly one pirating website, and it's free. Way simpler.

There's 57 channels and nothing's on. 57 channels and nothing on.

I can't remember ever having a movie in mind and then finding it on Netflix. If I have two hours to kill, I don't browse Netflix to choose from their selection (though my wife does once every blue moon).

For me, Netflix is just another channel with maybe some interesting shows this season.

This is like going to Trader Joe's and complaining that you can't get brand name items. There was a time when Netflix had a lot of major films. But the industry has found other ways to capitalize on those since.

There's a difference between a deep library and a comprehensive library. Netflix's library is quite extensive, so shallow isn't the right word for it. But it isn't a corpus that includes everything you could possibly want to watch--nowhere really is right now, and historically, corpuses like that have been rare and short-lived.

If Trader Joe's scattered their jams randomly throughout the store, we'd be upset too. Apricot jam in the "quirky and fun spreads" section along with hummus, grape next to peanut butter in "old time classics," strawberry in a section that isn't shown to you at all - you have to be told by a friend that it exists and ask a worker for it by name.

I've overextended the analogy.

The content available on Netflix is great, but the discoverability UX is atrocious.

> The content available on Netflix is great

Only if you are in the US

Not even then. They advertise a lot of stuff, and it's almost all unwatchable.

A corner store might have a ton of options for "foodstuffs", but only a couple types of milk. Sure, it would be hard to eat everything in the store, but it's still a small selection compared to a grocery store.

It would be hard to watch everything on Netflix, but it would be a short list to scroll through, especially when you apply some filters (e.g. romantic comedies with a rotten tomatoes rating > 70%).

Doesn't your post pretend all content is the same/of the same quality? And that a user's interest are purely just "content" ?

It's about the quantity of shows you'd be interested in, not the quantity you can throw on the television.

It's not that people want to watch everything, it's that everything they want to watch is different than everything you want to watch.

why do you think everyone wants to watch the same things? what's the downside of having a big library? why should my subscription fee pay for the license fees of stuff that doesn't interest me? (just like Spotify, although their library is impressive).

> why do you think everyone wants to watch the same things?

> why should my subscription fee pay for the license fees of stuff that doesn't interest me?

So obviously different people will have different interests... yet you don't think your monthly payment should subsidize any of those other things? How do you imagine that working exactly?

Tbh the library of netflix in most EUW states is ironically small compared to the USA one.

> 3) promote Netflix original content

You have no idea how much I prefer this over the dominant competing model which is "promote content that costs extra because it is not actually included in the subscription I already pay".

Netflix at least is trying to make me satisfied with the content available, instead of making me yearn for more in order to upsell.

There is no such thing on Netflix as there is nothing to pay extra for.

They just try to avoid you canceling your subscription when their licensing agreements are not getting renewed and everything else except their original content is gone.

This phenomenon definitely exists on competitors e.g. Prime. Lots of screen space wasted on PPV stuff...

Prime has PPV? It that a US thing? In France it only shows content directly available. Amazon originals are often promoted first.

Originals are often promoted, and maybe I'm using the wrong acronym with "PPV", but if you click on anything that doesn't have a tiny "prime" ribbon in the corner, you'll get a screen asking you if you really want to spend $3.99 or whatever. Slight annoyance, but then again I have bought these before when they did something manipulative like offering 8 of the 9 available seasons of a show for "prime" viewing... Also sometimes you just want to see something now instead of waiting a year or going to a theater.

Interesting, on my prime video page I can't buy anything. It only shows shows and movies that are included.

shallow library

Is this true? Lately I stumbled upon some movies made in India. And suddenly there was a whole new catalog available.

I think it just sucks to discover new content because you always get stuck in the 'more like this' search loop.

While those sites are fine for searching for specific content, I'm surprised no one has made a custom netflix homepage extension (and believe me, I've looked for it many times over the years).

I just want something simple and minimal. No bullshit fullscreen autoplaying trailer at the top. Just 3 sections: Shows I've been watching (with an easy button to remove any i'm done with), shows I have marked as interested in, and then at the bottom, there can be recommended shows and new content.

That's it. It shouldn't be that hard. Some day I might code it myself.

The shallow library argument is becoming increasingly dated. If you compare it to studios who have been around for decades, then sure. If you want to limit it to "quality" content, then maybe. If you want to look at it from a pure numbers perspective, Netflix is killing it.


Netflix is killing it if you think of them as a cable channel, like HBO. If you think of them as a movie rental shop, like Blockbuster (or Netflix) used to be, they're terrible.

Ah yes, the flood of foreign language TV shows and movies that we have no interest in watching. The problem is, Netflix has lost all of these licensed products and are forced to created original content. The golden age of streaming is dead. We now have cable/satellite style streaming services. Instead of 1 big bundle, we now have 2-6 streaming services paying roughly the same amount. At least there are fewer commercials.

Oh, you are quite right. I've just created Netflix account, exploring movies - series based on images - trailers when browsing with mouse and so on. Anyway, I miss basic filter..

Watched 2 seasons of 2 different series in less than 48 hours.

Yes, those “facades” are super useful. Problem is that most are US centric and simply break for international users, since streaming rights by country is a nightmarish jungle.

I'm going to probably seem stupid here. I don't understand why Netflix should be obsessed with how long people stream. I keep seeing this metric and I don't get it for something subscription based. I have Netflix, I have no intention of getting rid of it but I do not watch it that much. It's not ad supported, so if they have my subscription isn't that enough? Who cares how long I watch?

At the current subscription cost, keeping Netflix is a negligible expense for me and I'm not wealthy. So long as they put out 3-4 interesting things to watch a year (be it originals or something licensed) I can't imagine I'd cancel. I'm not looking to fill my days and nights, just something to kill a little time here and there or unwind for an hour or so a day. Am I an outlier? Do sub numbers drop if users can't sustainably spend 4+ hours a day on their platform?

Is it possible that more hours of streaming for a show somehow reduces the purchase price? In return the content producer gets more exposure (in their thinking).

From Netflix perspective, the income per subscriber is fixed, so now focus on reducing operating expenses (including content acquisition). Maybe?

I wouldn't go so far as saying you're an outlier, but nuanced individual motivations for retaining a subscription are hard to measure at scale. Lots of people would love to cut $10/mo from their budget, and the thing you barely use is one of the easiest candidates, so keeping hours-viewed/subscriber up is both easy to measure and likely a very high-quality signal of subscriber retention.

It gets a little more insidious than that. They really want to lock you in, make netflix the only thing you do during your limited free time. The more dependent you are on Netflix, the less time you spend on competitors services or even any other timesink for that matter, and the less likely you are to unsubscribe from Netflix.

Only problem is, by the sound of the comment sections in these netflix threads cropping up on HN and Reddit once a month or so, people are being pushed away. The whole thing appears to be backfiring from the outside, but who knows what their internal data tells them.

IMO, Netflix is at the stage where it collects mass preference to produce better movies by themselves, which creates a virtuous cycle for their bottom-line -- addiction to the platform of the mass & quality production.

I would think they will start charging more if the growth stalls AND enough stickiness of the platform is proven. Currently, they are making profits and growing in terms of revenue, so as long as the founder keeps the control and the company is profitable, I think it might make sense to pursue more subscription at the cost of short-term profitability.

The biggest (and worst) achievement of the Netflix UX is keeping people scrolling through lists (since almost nobody likes the blaring auto-playing previews of what's selected) and adding things to their lists but not really spending time watching movies or shows. This way, Netflix prevents its customers from spending time on competitors' platforms while also saving tons of bandwidth and other resources. It's a devious and genius UX!

Anyone from Netflix claiming that they truly want their customers to watch more on Netflix is delusional or lying or both! For example, Netflix customers have complained about the auto-playing previews for a long time and there's no solution from Netflix.

I hate that autoplay preview feature with a passion. So does everyone in my house. It’s gotten to the point for me where I’ll open any alternative ui (Roku app, Apple TV app, random web searches) to avoid having to use theirs.

I'd argue it's a balance. While I agree it's logical for them to want to optimize a balance between watching and scrolling. They don't want you to scroll forever, otherwise you'll get bored and not watch anything, I can only tolerate searching for nothing for so long.

Do that enough times and you have a subscription cancellation fast approaching.

I don’t have the link handy, but I remember reading that many (or most) Netflix users spend a significant amount of time managing and going through their lists to decide what to watch. Anecdotal observations and a handful of personal conversations have revealed the same. I don’t think as many people are canceling for this devious UX to be a money problem for Netflix.

Is it just me who feels strange when noticing that its on a Adobe Domain?

I mean objectively speaking it's all fine as it's on some form of "blog" for "interesting thinks about design". Which is what the article is about (design which keeps you watching). Still for some reason I can't pin down seeing it on a adobe domain irks me...?

Can someone explain the reason behind the UX design? I have already paid for subscription and this is a yearly one too on auto re-enroll, why does Netflix have to do so much to make me watch? They only need to worry about providing great content. People already paid for it and they have algorithms that will guess what a user might like and bubble up those shows.

Why does it have to do one click play and auto play without even clicking? It’s the most annoying feature ever and they seem to love it. There is no way to disable it. What are they getting out of it? It has gotten to a poi t where I expressly avoid Netflix unless I know there is a show I want to watch. All because of auto play. May be my hatred of it is extreme but I don’t get the point of it.

I still use Netflix on my old Panasonic plasma, rather than my Nvidia Shield as the hardware obviously doesn't support that autoplaying video nonsense. I absolutely hate, despise and loathe that "feature" with a passion. It's brought me close to cancelling many times just out my sheer hatred for that alone.

Like with any subscription, if you don't use it much, you'll eventually realize it's not worth the cost and cancel it.

If people subscribe to 3 TV streaming services and realize they're mostly watching only 2 of them, they'll cancel the 3rd.

So for Netflix, it's extremely important that you watch a lot, because that's precisely what prevents you from cancelling.

So every minute spent watching Netflix is one minute not spent on Disney et al? Makes perfect sense to me in a space with increasing competition.

As companies like Disney pull they content from Netflix and put it in their own services, Netflix will need other avenues to hook people in order to keep their subscriber counts up.

Great content alone won't maximize stickiness - better UX than competitors is also a major selling point. For example, on Netflix you currently don't get ads, which when compared to broadcast TV or even some streaming services, you have to suffer through (seeing ads on YouTube even while paying for a subscription is an example of user hostility).

Competitors don't sit still either - they're busy trying to put together a package of good content and improved UX as well in order to better compete with Netflix. Incumbents generally are harder to unseat though, whether it be in politics or in business, the bar that needs to be passed is "Why should I move from/pay for X?" - in this case, Netflix wants to be the X.

I get all that. It’s the autoplay while browsing feature I hate and strongly think is a discouraging thing for viewers like me. I am already there in the app, paid for it, opened the app, looking for content to watch. At that point they don’t have to sell me shit. I am already there. Auto play doesn’t make sense to me. You can make great UX without that feature which Netflix already has. In fact the auto play does the exact opposite of what they think it achieves.

Same here. I don't get it: if Netflix UI causes me to go through all the episodes of a show faster, that's one less show available for me to watch on Netflix, making the service less valuable.

I actually asked a friend who is/was a product manager there about the autoplay thing and he said something like "I hear this from everyone I know but when I bring it up [making it an option] it's just a solid 'no'" -- presumably from some UX team or something.

It's awful. Very obnoxious.

I wonder if Netflix will eventually get rid of discrete episodes all together. Generally, the end of an episode is when people make a decision to stop or continue watching. If the goal is to maximize engagement, it seems like it would be beneficial for Netflix to get rid of those decisions-making points all together and make a season of television like a 9-12 hour movie.

I think most people would avoid the decision to start watching something with a listed runtime of 9-12 hours. Netflix has already made sure that episodes transition automatically and seamlessly into each other, including reaching into the content itself to skip past long credits.

I would imagine going into it, people would optimistically assume they are only going to watch for 30-60 minutes, but end up getting hooked and watching for hours.

That wouldn't work because people need satisfying points along the way.

Even for TV shows with plots spread over a season, each episode has an arc of an intro that hooks you, development, and then a satisfying conclusion. And we can only hold so many plot details in our head at once, which is why movies and plays generally aren't longer than 2 hours and change.

A 9-12 hr megamovie would be deeply unsatisfying to watch, without the carefully structured resolutions along the way. You need satisfying "stopping points" along the way where a few things get resolved but a few more things keep you watching the next night.

It's the same way fiction books need chapters and symphonies need movements. Episodes are a basic creative organizational principle.

This is an interesting thought. Over the holidays I've been watching my TV than I would during a normal week and I've noticed that my time in front of the screen is much different when there are commercials (forced 2 minute breaks) than when there are not commercials.

I can't think of another service other than Netflix with such a hostile UX/UI. And this is in the age of popups galore. Everything about their UI is designed to keep me out of it as much as possible. My bingeing habits have drastically reduced and switched to alternatives like prime and Hulu.

1. Auto previews is probably the worst thing they've come up with. I just want to read the description, not be assaulted with trailers and ad for the show. This means you need to scroll faster than it can be invoked. This also means a tense experience where I can't just take my time to find what I want to watch or I have to look elsewhere.

2. Constantly moving 'Continue Watching' . I just want to get back to the show I was watching. Why is that so difficult to understand?

3. Showing me previews by cutting out the end credits. It's like no one at Netflix has any idea how to watch a movie/show. Sometimes you want to reflect on what you just experienced. Or talk to the people around you about what happened. This is just extremely bad behavior on an app that's paid for.

4. The discovery is straight up garbage. A rand() function on the top global watched tv shows/genre will result in a better selection then the crap their ML algorithm puts out.

Ironically all their 'engagement' tactics had moved my household from Netflix to Hulu and prime more. 2020 is probably when we'll cut the cord on Netflix.

Netflix had a huge advantage of being the first and the biggest in streaming services. They could have been easily the Google Search equivalent in their field. Instead, today their just one of the very many services with no discernible difference.

Netflix has solid engineers who were amazing to work with, but their product management teams would be people I'd never hire because it's very clear no one really understands the product.

Maybe if Netflix had movies and TV shows that I actually want to watch, then I would stay up to watch them. Its become a recurring joke that every time I think "Hey this movie looks good, I'll check if its on Netflix", the movie has never once been available for streaming. This actually happened this weekend. I searched for 4 different movies, and in the "titles similar to {#4}" was one I was interested in so I watched it. I keep forgetting to cancel because I use Netflix so little now.

The entire premise of this article appears to be based on the idea that peak viewing is from midnight to 2am.

That is most definitely incorrect.

Peak viewing, at least when I worked there, was during prime time in that time zone.

Except for kids shows. Peak viewing of kids shows was Saturday morning.

What was working there like? Does the whole "this is a professional sports team you might be cut at any moment" culture impart fear or undercutting or blame shifting?

I worked at Amazon and I found that the horror stories were generally not true, but that if you ended up with the wrong manager could be very true. Always been curious about Netflix.

I loved working there. Everyone was great.

Everyone fears getting fired for the first few days, until you realize they don't really just fire you on a whim. Then you get over it.

People don't get fired for making mistakes, so there really isn't any blame shifting or undercutting. Making mistakes is encouraged -- it means that you're innovating and trying new things.

Making the same mistakes repeatedly is what gets you in trouble.

The main difference between Netflix and other places is that at other places, when your current skills are no longer needed, they will move you into a new job and give you time to ramp up.

At Netflix, they will say, "here is a big fat severance check, let us know if you need any glowing references".

This doen’t seem to be particularly new or specific to Netflix. When I am reading a catchy book at night, I often read more chapters than I intended to, occasionally until deep in the night.

Same, plus I remember countless times I stayed up later than I should have as a kid watching network television as a kid in the 1990s. I guess Fox was fighting my sleep too?

The main argument seems to be that binge watching makes it worse. But in reality there’s only a small amount of shows that are worthy of binge watching and Netflix has a very finite amount of them...per year.

Also, the author has a TV in their room. Prior to Netflix, unless they watched movies, anything with commercials is also trying to keep you watching (much more so by design). Does anyone else remember how loud Billy Mays would introduce himself late at night?

I feel so seen! For a very long time, I couldn't sleep without watching TV shows on my laptop, to the extent that I'd have insomnia if the Internet went out. In fact, even though I've weaned myself off it for the past several months, I'd probably still have trouble sleeping if I didn't at least know I could watch reruns of 30 Rock if I had trouble sleeping.

More to the point: just like the author, there's a very particular kind of TV I'd watch to sleep: nothing for the first time, and nothing tense. The West Wing and the US version of The Office were both great for me, since there's so much of it to get through. I've probably seen every episode of The West Wing at least 15 times by now.

Which, to me, sort of answers/challenges the concern the author has about binge watching. On a normal night, I'd barely make it through half an episode before I'd notice time slipping as I watched, my cue that I'm nodding off and should shut the laptop. I'm never watching first-run stuff like Mindhunter or Russian Doll, the stuff Netflix really wants me to be streaming, because it'd keep me alert.

What I find surprising is that despite their shallow catalog of content (my opinion), they fail to promote their shows to me that I’m actually interested in. When Stranger Things Season 3 was released and when The Witcher was recently released, it was no where on my home menus. Despite these shows being the exact genre I typically watch, I had to search for these shows. ?????!

Their machine learning algorithm is probably optimized to reduce churn and keep subscribers at any cost.

By making people search and find content, there might be some subconscious effect on people that makes them think the service has more value. Tricking people subconsciously means less cancelled subscriptions.

What's scary is that all these dark patterns Netflix and other tech companies are using are completely obfuscated. No one really understands what's going on because the patterns are part of some complex neural network. In the past they would have been shamed publicly for stuff like this, but now it's only 20% of their users who have such-and-such psychological profile can be exploited this way, while others can be exploited another way and no one knows what's happening.

My theory is the more powerful AI becomes, the more it will exploit human psychology until everything sucks. Everyone will have the overwhelming urge to keep spending money while being miserable because that's the optimal customer according to the AI.

> My theory is the more powerful AI becomes, the more it will exploit human psychology until everything sucks.

It can hardly do worse than what human beings have done to themselves over the millennia and continue to do to each other every day. But it can probably do it faster and more efficiently.

About a year or so ago I realized that I cannot pay attention to English dialog shows (I speak English as my native tongue). I would either look at my phone, or even worse, start doing work on my laptop.

I made the switch to International Shows (that are not in English) where I am forced to read subtitles. I am forced to pay attention. If I don't, I have to rewind or pause.

It's actually a great system b/c: #1 - Netflix has a pretty solid international library b/c they've been making the global push #2 - Every country has some good shows (at least a few) #3 - It's pretty interesting seeing how the other half lives

Also, to a lesser extent, Hulu and Amazon Prime also have good international shows, often licensed from real studios operating in foreign countries.

Occasionally I will watch an English speaking show, but it's an exception now.

It's still the best among the major streaming companies.

Amazon's is designed to sell you episodes, meaning that it's complete garbage for actually trying to view shows. Instead of coalescing all the seasons and episodes for a particular title, they'll break them up into individual seasons that are usually NOT in alphabetical or chronological order.

Hulu? I tend to watch a couple shows on Hulu when I'm not viewing live TV. It is ALWAYS a giant pain in the ass to find those two shows. If I were at a computer it'd be one thing, but I'm sitting there with a remote trying to input text into a search bar.

I always wonder if the public considers the Netflix UX to be as bad as it is considered here on Hacker News. I've noticed this with Airpods too. We as (mostly) tech people will deride a product and predict it's decline but it will have record sales and seem popular in the world. I have heard a few grumblings about the content library out in the wild, but in general people seem pretty excited and keen on Netflix.

I know that everytime I happen to watch cable TV with commercials the experiences feels a bit dated; I can only imagine what it feels like for the 20 and under crowd.

I love my Netflix subscription but absolutely hate their app. And to think that their software developers are among the highest paid in the industry! I fondly remember the old days, when they give is a long list of shows in a list from top to bottom. And you had an arrow to move your titles up and down. No fancy images and auto-play and atrocious design

> I’ve always required television to get to sleep, and I’m not a good sleeper.

These two statements are correlated. Television in your bedroom makes you a worse sleeper, and you can immediately improve your sleep quality by removing it and keeping your room as dark as possible. I was skeptical of this, but after a month of insomnia, I went to a sleep lab for a consult and took all of their advice. I'm still not an amazing sleeper but it's been a huge improvement.

> Good UX coupled with great television has a way of encouraging bad viewing habits.

This reminds me of a project to make cigarette packaging less convenient in order to discourage smoking.


Why is Netflix such a big deal? It's on the front page constantly. Their catalog is not massive and there are lots of other roughly equivalent services too.

I think it's something that William Gibson notes that in the US in everyday language, phenomena are somehow always tied to brands.

There are definitely strong network effects at play - people want to be able to watch and talk about the same shows as their friends and family.

How does Netflix make more money the more users watch, if users pay a flat monthly rate, and they don't show ads? They have to pay more bandwidth costs, the more people watch. Seems they should optimize for users who subscribe then never watch.

That is a "keep users paying feature". If you watch netflix a lot, there is a slimmer chance of cancellation.

> Seems they should optimize for users who subscribe then never watch.


It's good while it lasts.

They're not a gym and can't exactly guilt people into renewing each January.

If they have cache servers at most ISP maybe bandwidth is not really that expensive.

Can’t people be grown ups and stop blaming UXs for their behaviors?

No. It's no different than advertising. You may think you are "mature" enough but it does impact how you behave in suttle ways

I know Netflix will never make the faceted search interface I've always wanted: Show me shows that are between 45-90 minutes in a particular genre, made in the 70s. Show me animated shows from Japan that are <25 minutes long. Etc.

Netflix's UI is terrible for discovery, unlike the DVD days where I loved browsing it even if I wasn't going to watch.

I do doubt that it's UI really makes anyone watch anything or binge.

Leveraging AI and ML making companies to increase their revenue multi-folds.

Netflix's UI is probably one of the worst I've ever used.

Horizontal browsing on desktop (or even mobile for that matter), are you kidding!?

Mouseover will completely change the layout, etc. etc.

Just very bad in general.

It always confuses me how authoritarians and their ilk always end up admitting they do the thing they are complaining about. It’s like they are complaining to me for their lack of self control. In any case, Netflix does turn off if it thinks you are asleep. Or, you can configure your tv or Wi-Fi to turn off at a certain time, which is why my kids don’t watch tv at 3am.

"The UX of the top streaming services are expertly designed to encourage me to binge and remain on the platform for as long as possible." -- I don't quite understand this. If it would be an advertisement-driven platform, like Facebook, then keeping people on a platform for as long as possible would certainly make sense. From a business perspective, that is. However, for subscription-based ad-free platforms like Netflix, I don't really see how it benefits them (assuming that people stay within the same plan/tier).

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