Netflix users skewered the streaming service on Reddit recently by finding faults with its search functions, recommendations and auto-playing trailers, according to tech and entertainment news website BGR.
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Netflix has more than 158.3 million subscribers worldwide, so Netflix has a lot of eyes staring at its user interface. And like any other business, it’s hard to please everyone. But the Reddit thread, under the Television subreddit, comes at a time when streaming subscribers have more choices. In addition to Amazon Prime Video and Hulu have been joined by Disney+ and Apple TV+. Others, like HBO Max and NBCUniversal's Peacock will soon be available.
And there is only so much money that streaming TV viewers will pay to watch. A recent study said that most people do not want to spend more than $30 a month for over the top services, like Netflix.
That forecast is up from the amount it spent in 2019 — $15.3 billion — and the popular streaming service's content spending will surpass $26 billion by 2028, Variety reported Thursday citing BMO. The firm expects most of its 2020 spending to go toward creating originals.
The company has to put up such large expenses to stay competitive with streaming rivals like Amazon, HBO, Hulu and Apple, which have also put billions into creating original content. Apple and Amazon spent a combined $12 billion on programming content in 2018, according to The Motley Fool.
FOX Business didn’t receive a response from Netflix regarding the publicized consumer complaints, but here are the top three features that are grinding gears among its TV app users.
3. Limited genre search and browse options
On Netflix’s TV app at least, there is no clickable genre list for users to pick from and explore the platform’s 5,800 title media library. Instead, Netflix displays genre categories it created through its algorithm based on titles with similar themes such as “Strong Female Lead” and “Gritty US TV Programs.”
Entering a genre term in the search bar can turn up a few results, but the selection is extremely limited when compared to Netflix’s total media library.
“All I've ever wanted is an A-Z list for each genre," one user shared in the Reddit thread. "It's easier using external sites that list Netflix movies,”
Other users said omitting useable genre features are counterintuitive for a streaming service since it requires people to know a part or full name of a show or movie they want to watch in order to see something new, which ultimately limits options.
Desktop users get to employ “secret” codes and browser plugins to unlock hidden genre lists, but it’s not helpful for TV streamers who don’t own HDMI cords for a computer-to-TV connection.
2. Recommendations get easily skewed
Streamers enjoy the personalized recommendations they get on Netflix, but they don’t like how easily these suggestions get skewed. A top complaint people have is that the user interface is not friendly for anyone looking into a title. Not reading a summary fast enough usually triggers an auto-play, which impacts future recommendations even if the show or movie isn’t watched in entirety.
Others who don’t have the most up-to-date app can experience similar skews when clicking on a title to read its summary, which unintentionally plays the browsed content.
Outside of user experience issues, several commenters noted that they get annoyed by Netflix’s pushiness with promoted content. Particularly, people said they dislike it when these promotions end up in their recommendations despite it being a complete disconnect to their viewing habits.
“So far the only streaming service I've found that DOESN'T have a terrible UI is Disney+," one user vented in the Reddit thread. "The other big ones actively work against you getting to content they aren't currently promoting, or they have these big lineups of garbage splash screens that make browsing a time consuming and confusing mess."
1. Auto-playing trailers
The top offender on Netflix is the platform’s auto-play feature, according to streamers. Nearly every title has a trailer that automatically plays whenever a remote control hovers over a potential selection. This tends to force Netflix users to either speed-read summaries, mute the trailer altogether or scroll through content rapidly to avoid the feature.
Dislike for this feature is so prevalent users of the service have resorted to Change.org petitions to try and sway the streaming giant. A petition that launched on Dec. 19, 2019, has over 63,200 supporters at the time of publication, which is close to the creator’s set signature goal of 75,000.
“As Netflix continues to release more and more hard-hitting shows, their unstoppable previews have gone from annoying to triggering,” the petition states while citing Netflix’s hit shows like “13 Reasons Why” and “Making a Murderer” as examples.
Particularly, the petition found the platform’s original true crime docuseries “include content that is graphic, sickening, and real,” which have auto-playing trailers that begin unprompted “for people who have no interest and it can't be turned off.”