Netflix, please stop with the autoplay


Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson recently tweeted that his favorite console game is trying to scroll through Netflix without starting one of Netflix’s godawful autoplaying trailers.

Johnson’s remarks may come off as a random Twitter complaint, but as any Netflix subscriber will tell you, there’s nothing more annoying on the streaming service right now. You’re browsing Netflix, flipping through unfamiliar titles, struggling with choice anxiety... You don’t want to settle BoJack Horseman for the hundredth time, so you force yourself to browse the independent drama section. But ever time you hover over a title, an annoyingly loud trailer with bad royalty-free music starts to play and you quickly move your cursor over to avoid listening.

The decision to add unnecessary, autoplaying trailers and, just as baffling, unnecessary music, actually impedes on your ability to browse and makes for a terrible user experience.

Johnson’s followers responded with a chorus of “hallelujah” and “THIS,” which on the internet, is one of the best responses to prove you too understand exactly what someone’s talking about. When I dropped the tweet into Slack and commented with my own “THIS” I was surprised at how quickly Polygon staff jumped in to vent their own annoyances with the feature. Then I typed “Netflix auto preview” into Google and laughed at the first responses; instructions on how to disable it and rant-filled Reddit threads bemoaning the current Netflix user experience. There’s even an entire Twitter account dedicated to talking about how much auto preview trailers suck!

Don’t get me wrong; I love Netflix. It’s what I fall asleep to, it’s what I have on the background when I’m working from home and it’s how I get my fill of documentaries. The decision to turn the already difficult process of trying to simply pick something to watch into something even more stressful is unacceptable. We can read the descriptions and, if we decide that it’s not something we want to dedicate two hours to, we just move on to the next thing.

I’m aware of how this all sounds. Bemoaning a streaming service for playing trailers is about the least cool thing you can do; it’s almost as bad as being a verified Twitter user and abusing that power to call out food chains or airlines for not providing perfect customer service. Netflix’s user experience, however, is instrumental to its success. Browsing through Netflix used to be superior to the experience on Hulu, Amazon or HBO Now. It’s why I could spend half an hour browsing for a title and not feel like I’m wasting my life in the process.

That is, that’s how it used to be. Netflix has increasingly made browsing its service more challenging and annoying. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we be left to browse in peace without being assaulted with audio every few seconds.

It’s gotten to the point that by the time I’ve hovered over eight or nine different titles, I give up in frustration and throw on an old episode of New Girl or House. I’ve watched the same American Vandal episode so many times mostly because it’s the first thing sitting on the top of my “continue watching” page. I can avoid being bombarded by trailers if I just click something — so I do.

Netflix, I’m not asking you for much. I didn’t ask for Everything Sucks; I didn’t ask for Bright; I certainly didn’t ask for The Defenders or Iron Fist or a single Adam Sandler Netflix-exclusive movie, but that didn’t stop you from reminding me that it exists every time I open the app. All I’m asking for is being allowed to browse in peace and not have intrusive sounds blare across my apartment every few seconds.

Please, my dudes, turn off the autoplaying preview feature. Don’t even do it for me! Do it for Rian Johnson.


Why is everyone’s first impulse to blame the consumer?

clearly you’ve never worked in customer support.


Also, how the hell are companies supposed to know what we want if we don’t ask?

how the hell are companies supposed to know what we want if we don’t ask?

By paying good designers to figure out what a good interface is.

how do you think they do that?

trial and error reinforced by supply and demand

So people asking for features?

no, people buying the things that feature what they want.

Autoplay on adds on a website devoted to gaming and visual entertainment is really annoying too btw, Polygon.

I’m sure everyone who creates interfaces thinks their interfaces are best.

And yet, a huge number of top websites (which absolutely hire designers) have dumb fucking choices like autoplaying videos that pop to the side of the screen and scroll with you, screaming as you look through the page at the information you care about.

The guy that created that probably thinks it’s the greatest idea ever, and a bunch of other sites quickly copied, because it must be the greatest idea.

But even the best designer makes bad choices once in a while, and consumer feedback is necessary to discover those bad choices.

You could be right. But I’d also venture to say that most designers, especially those that consider good usability paramount, are forced to implement such terrible experiences because it is a metric that the company places a high value on (plays of their content) or uses as a selling point (more views = more money) to their advertisers.

It is clearly apparent that nobody at netflix decided to try their autopreview feature for more than 5 minutes before implementing it to decide whether or not it would be something that aggravates their customers.. if they had, several staff would have likely said "look.. this thing is damn annoying, I think our customers are gonna be annoyed".

I was thoroughly irritated by it within a few minutes the first they introduced the feature and so is everyone in my family and every friend I have that uses netflix.. I haven’t heard one person say they like it.. the "kindest" thing I’ve heard is "it’s a bit annoying I guess".

if they had, several staff would have likely said "look.. this thing is damn annoying, I think our customers are gonna be annoyed".

I can pretty much guarantee that Netflix’s whole interface team were frantically mouthing "No! No!" while drawing their fingers over their throats, as the intern explained what an autopreview was to the exec who’d asked how to "make it pop". It violates pretty much every UX rule there is.

Because not everyone consumer considers this a flaw?

  1. It should be an option
  2. It should show the actual trailer for the movie (like they used to) instead of some shitty muzak that has nothing to do with the picture in question and makes many people unwilling to drill beyond the one line description lest we hear more of the shittiness
  3. They should have presented a prompt to explain it and offer to turn it off the moment they rolled it out
  4. It should be an option

The fact of the matter is I’ve been using Netflix less and less over the past few months and the only reason I’ve kept my subscription going is the other 3 groups of people that use my account actually do use it.

Wait, you’re paying for other people?

Is there really a Netflix account out there that someone hasn’t shared with friends and family?

Mine. I don’t share it with anyone and never will.

lol allright.

Mine. Why would I share it so friends and family who I know can pay for it can be cheap?

I wouldn’t want to use someone else’s either.

Haha I guess not everyone thinks the same way. My idea is that friends and family hook each other up. My parents and my sister have my Netflix account; its great.

People complaining about this must have so so very little going on in their lives. It’s almost cringe worthy. I personally like the trailer previews. Some people don’t. That’s life.

I don’t think that’s the case but it is definitely a first world problem.

yeah, because I’m totally sure you only complains about world hunger, slavery or other big society problems like that and never complains about petty things like losing your keys, being disturbed in the morning by a marketing call or some religious solicitation at your door…

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