Streaming giant Netflix is having a rough week with fans. After deleting every user review that was ever posted to the site, as reported at Inquisitr, they said they would be playing short ads between episodes of shows. Then they reversed course and said they weren’t. Then they said they would, but it would only be a brief ad about Netflix originals. Then they showed a longer than brief ad for movies that are definitely not Netflix originals, so what’s the deal?
If anything is afoot in the online world that is a bit shady, you can bet there’s a Reddit thread that has noticed it, discussed it, gotten to the bottom of it, and is ready to explain it all to the world. Sometimes what they come up with is kind of meh, but this time they are on the money. Netflix is showing, what are by definition, advertisements. The thing is they aren’t calling them advertisements, so by their own definition, they are telling the truth. Sort of anyway. They call their ads “recommendations.”
One of the things that has made Netflix what it is and allowed the platform to ever reach the point of having originals is that they allowed uninterrupted binging of everything in their catalog. They did, of course, add that one message that would sometimes pop up and ask if you were still there, but you generally had to watch like 11 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy to trigger that concern. While platforms like Hulu forced ads on paying costumers, Netflix always seemed above the fray, until now.
Netflix is now playing ads for their own shows. Time to cancel my subscription.
— Høwie (@kazowieee) August 18, 2018
It’s a big enough deal that even the usually impartial TV Guide got into it and gave Netflix a bit of “what the heck?” over the move. They even found reports of the ads being un-skippable.
“Users reported that their beloved binges were interrupted by commercials between episodes for Netflix content that could, theoretically, interest an individual based on the mighty algorithm that runs the streaming service and the world and will one day surely turn us all into Cybermen. Some users also reported that the commercials couldn’t be skipped.”
— Ross Gerber (@GerberKawasaki) August 19, 2018
To help clarify the issue, Netflix told CNN Money that the “recommendations” are just something they are trying out as a new way to introduce content to users. It sounds a lot like an ad still, but they maintain that the “recommendations” can be skipped, despite supposed evidence to the contrary, and that not all users will get them anyway. It all depends on what the algorithm says.