Lifestyle: Netflix Adapts to Users


By Molly Freeman

Photo courtesy of Matt Perreault.

Years ago, Netflix started off as a simple rental service with the convenience of receiving movies and television shows in the mail. In the time since the service launched, it has evolved into a multi-platform streaming service available internationally.

Now, Netflix is making even more small tweaks to its model, website, and user experience in an effort to improve its service. Of course, one of the biggest draws of Netflix (aside from its helpfulness on a night in on the couch chowing down on some lo mein) is its original content. House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and most recently Marvel’s Daredevil have made Netflix a must-have for fans of quality television.

Another major selling point of Netflix is its lack of commercials–even Hulu Plus can’t offer a completely ad-free viewing experience (though, to its credit, Hulu Plus provides more current television episodes). However, Netflix is not only moving toward potentially screening advertisements, they’re also offering episodes of a current TV series shortly after they air.

VICE’s Motherboard reported that Netflix is “experimenting with the HBO model of pitching its own original programming to viewers” by streaming advertisements before and after users watch a video. Fear not, though, a Netflix spokesperson assured Motherboard that the service will not be adding third-party ads.

Additionally, Netflix altered its typical release schedule–simply making whole seasons of a TV series available and ready to binge-watch–with one of its newest shows, Between. The survivalist drama is a special case because Canada’s City network has “first-window rights” (meaning, they premiere the episodes before anyone else); Netflix can only make episodes available in the US once they’ve aired in Canada. So, Netflix is releasing episodes of Between once a week, like old, pre-Netflix television–gross.

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey.

Amid all these minor changes, Netflix is also altering its user interface in an effort to make its website appear more like a darkened theater and less like a sales site, such as Amazon.

However, none of these alterations to Netflix are exceptionally major–the website will be more unique, the service will advertise its own content, and only one show (so far) will be released week-to-week. So it doesn’t seem Netflix is moving away from what has always kept users coming back: original and compelling content in a diverse range of genres, and a user-geared viewing experience.

Additionally, with Netflix looking to put out even more content each year (something we’ve already seen in 2015 with new series/seasons premiering roughly every other week), it seems the service will continue to cater to its users’ habits and tastes–even if that includes binge-watching Orange is the New Black in an unhealthily short period of time.