Have you ever wished Netflix was more like regular TV, with scheduled programming instead of letting you choose what you want to watch? Wish no more.
Netflix Direct, not at all related to the digital press conferences favoured by Nintendo, is being tested among French audiences before being considered for a wider rollout.
Available to subscribers in France, Direct is a linear channel that will air films and TV shows from Netflix’s offering in a way uncannily similar to how free-to-air TV works.
Variety mentions there are roughly nine million French Netflix subscribers, where a portion of the audience can access Direct now via web browsers. Direct will become available to the rest of France come early December. It is not clear if Direct is a limited-time test, or how long it might be before other regions see the service.
According to Netflix, France was chosen for the Direct pilot due to the population’s traditional TV-watching habits.
“In France, watching traditional TV remains hugely popular with people who just want a ‘lean back’ experience where they don’t have to choose shows,” said Netflix.
“We’re trying a new feature for our members in France – called ‘Direct.’ Maybe you’re not in the mood to decide, or you’re new and finding your way around, or you just want to be surprised by something new and different.”
Back in August, Netflix trialled Shuffle Play for a sample of users, allowing those selected to consume whatever the whims of the algorithm decided. Although it didn’t see a wider release, Gizmodo has a few options if you’re keen to simulate the experience.
Although it seems bizarre to have an option to take away choice on a platform dedicated to on-demand content, Direct is just that — an option.
I can see the appeal of Netflix’s Direct channel as a way of curating content and encouraging you to try things you may not have previously considered. That, or worn down by yet another day of working for capitalist overlords, you just want one less decision to make in your life.
Time will tell if Netflix Direct comes to Australia. In the meantime, we’ll watch our French allies with interest.