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.