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Report: Netflix Expanding User Previews to Get More Feedback on New Shows, Movies

David Satin

If Netflix intends to spend $17 billion on content through the end of next year, the company wants to make sure that it’s getting its money’s worth. In that vein, Netflix is expanding the number of users it enlists to preview new movies and shows in order to offer feedback, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The program is similar to what major Hollywood studios do in test screenings of new films. An audience is brought in to watch the movie and provide reactions on what’s working with the film, and what isn’t. Netflix’s current previewer base is around 2,000 U.S. subscribers, and the company plans to expand that number to tens of thousands.

The streaming giant employed its previewers before the release of its 2021 film “Don't Look Up.” The advanced viewers thought the film had too serious of a tone, which led Netflix to add more humor to the movie before its release. “Don’t Look Up” garnered four Academy Award nominations, and still holds the record for weekly viewing hours for a film on the service.

This move comes as the service is refocusing its efforts on not just on growing its subscriber base, but keeping subscribers engaged in order to limit churn. Netflix is the only major streaming service in the U.S. to claim a profit, so the company will do whatever it can to maximize that profit margin.

Those efforts have taken a big leap forward in 2022. Netflix launched its ad-supported tier on Nov. 3. At $9.99 per month, it’s one of the most expensive plans with ads available in the streaming marketplace, so Netflix will almost certainly see a boost in its average revenue per customer (or “unit” as the industry dubs them) (ARPU) from the plan. By 2025, some analysts project Netflix could see an extra $5.5 billion in revenue by 2027 thanks to the new price tier.

Netflix is also planning to significantly reduce the number of customers who share passwords. Starting in 2023, users who are not the primary owners of a Netflix account will be logged out of the service, and either the account owners or the extra users will receive a message that more viewers can be added to the account for $2.99 per month.

The password-sharing move may not be a popular one among Netflix users, but the expanded base of movie and TV show previewers theoretically should help raise standards for content on the platform, minimizing what the streamer will need to spend in order to attract (or often re-attract) subscribers. Netflix grew to 223 million global users in the third quarter of 2022, and if its new expanded preview system is effective, its content could draw even more subscriptions moving forward.

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