Netflix Promo Videos Controversy

Robert Miller, Online Editor, Broadcast Editor

    On Aug. 17, the streaming platform Netflix caught fire in the news and on social media for implementing what they call ‘Promotional Videos’ between episodes. Especially on Twitter, thousands of tweets have been posted criticizing Netflix for their new advertisements, even going so far as threatening to cancel their subscriptions over this new issue. The problem that people seem to not understand is that these advertisements are a good thing and if anything, are potentially beneficial to those subject to the testing. The biggest misunderstanding was that these  Netflix’s policy has been up for years now, and has remained mostly the same the past few years. As shown under section four, Netflix states that, “By using our service, you agree to receive, without further notice or prompting, updated versions of the Netflix and related third-party software. If you do not accept the foregoing terms, do not use our service.” This means that they are allowed to make changes to their software and its features without notifying its customers.
   Netflix also takes this a step further by stating under section nine that, “We will send you information relating to your account (e.g. payment authorizations, invoices, changes in password or Payment Method, confirmation messages, notices) in electronic form only, for example via emails to your email address provided during registration. You agree that any notices, agreements, disclosures or other communications that we send to you electronically will satisfy any legal communication requirements, including that such communications be in writing.” So, not only have subscribers been notified of the change regarding ads, they also were not even required to be notified of the implementation of ads between their episodes.

   Lastly, one thing that everyone seems to forget is that when Netflix does experiments and testing, they are doing it solely to make Netflix a more enjoyable service to its subscribers. In an interview with The New York Times, Company Spokeswoman Smita Saran was interviewed on the ‘Promotional Videos’, saying that,

   “These video promos are actually personalized recommendations for titles we think a member may enjoy watching,” Ms. Saran said. “In this particular case, we are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”

Illustration by Jonathan Callison/The Comets’ Tale

   Furthermore, if the promotional videos are distracting from the binge-watching experience in their experimental phase, they can be turned off by going to Test Participation under Account Settings and move the slider to turn it off.