Netflix Is Testing an Even Worse Home View

In my last post where I emphasized (yet again) that Apple really should cut a deal with the juggernaut that is Netflix, I wasn’t endorsing the streamer’s TV app, but talking about it’s unassailable dominance in streaming. Not working with Netflix hurts Apple more than it hurts Netflix. Even if every user with an Apple TV canceled their Netflix subscription… well, Netflix would be fine.

The Netflix tvOS app is very hostile. The autoplaying video is out of control in the app. Yes, even if you follow Netflix’s instructions to disable them. I can’t get a moment’s peace in that app. What Netflix does, other streamers copy, and that includes irksome autoplaying cruft.

And yet, Netflix is testing a new home view. I don’t have it yet, but you can read about it at The Verge and see it in action.

Ironically, Netflix removing the side bar and putting a streamlined set of options in a horizontal row at the top of the interface is the exact opposite of what tvOS 17.2 did. I’m definitely not the only one who noticed.

It’s like the old saying goes, “There are only two ways to redesign streaming interfaces: moving top row navigation to side bars, and side bar navigation to top rows.”

Oddly enough, you tap the “<” back button to get the top row to appear? It’s not an “^” button.

That quirk aside, the irritation is really the dynamic, swoopy, take-over-everything previews that happen when you hover over a tile. God forbid you don’t immediately have something taking over your field of view at all times or you might have intrusive thoughts.

From The Verge:

“We often see members doing gymnastics with their eyes as they’re scanning the home experience,” Pat Flemming, Netflix’s senior director of product, tells The Verge. “We really wanted members to have an easier time figuring out if a title is right for them.”

I would argue that Netflix would like to persuade people reluctant to push a button to play a preview that a title is right for them by forcing them to watch the preview, and minimizing alternative options by shoving them off frame. The entire interface doesn’t gymnastics to make previews more prominent and discourage people from continuing to browse is not something I am a big fan of.

Netflix already isn’t a place to browse for the faint of heart —or if you are going to do it, do it on your iPhone which will be a lot quieter.

While other streamers have copied Netflix, even Apple, with autoplaying video previews, they usually have a setting that let’s you turn it off.

Apple TV app:
Settings app -> Accessibility (not the TV app settings from the Apps settings) -> Motion -> Auto-Play Video Previews (Off)

Prime Video:
Prime Video app -> Side Bar -> Settings Gear Icon -> Autoplay (Off)

Paramount+ app -> Side Bar -> Settings -> Video -> Autoplay (Off)

Max app -> Side Bar -> Settings Gear Icon -> Playback -> Autoplay Previews (Off)

It’s very likely, in my opinion, that research folks at Netflix will be able to support Pat Flemming’s redesign being a good thing. It’s about getting people to play a video faster, and spend less time browsing, which is not the same thing as satisfaction with the browsing experience. It could be attrition, or apathy that makes a person give in to whatever tile took over the screen.

Anyway, the reality of the situation remains unchanged. Unseating Netflix is a non-starter. For the most part, reservations people have about Netflix as an app give way to how they feel like they need to have Netflix as a streaming service. Giving people ways to view Netflix without this browsing experience might also be a non-starter for Netflix, but it’s one Apple should pursue.

2024-06-06 12:55:00

Category: text