Netflix is looking to solve the problem of endless indecisive scrolling through its expansive library, testing a channel with scheduled programming. The "Direct" linear channel is being soft tested now in France, reported IndieWire Friday, attempting to combat user complaints that the vast amount of Netflix offerings has made it more difficult to actually choose what to watch.
The Direct platform had a soft launch in France on Nov. 5, but the streaming service told IndieWire the channel will be more widely available throughout the country, which has about 9 million subscribers, by the beginning of December. The channel will feature a curated schedule of programming Netflix already offers, taking the pressure off viewers to choose what they want to watch and more closely mirroring the network model France was reportedly chosen as the testing country due to the population's more traditional television watching habits.
"Many viewers like the idea of programming that doesn’t require them to choose what they are going to watch," Netlflix told IndieWire in a statement. "Whether you are lacking inspiration or whether you are discovering Netflix for the first time, you could let yourself be guided for the first time without having to choose a particular title and let yourself be surprised by the diversity of Netflix’s library."
Netflix has been testing out a number of solutions to the dilemma of choice amid the emergence of other streaming platforms such as Peacock, HBO Max and Disney+, recently debuting a shuffle button on some users' devices that was designed to do the choosing for the viewer based on the internal algorithm, according to TechCrunch. While critics of the new feature said it was too broad a solution for the desire to, for example, watch a random episode of a chosen TV show, others praised the streaming giant for partially responding to viewer feedback.
Netflix also is testing airing its original programming on smaller, ad-based streamers such as Pluto TV. In October, the company made Narcos, one of its most popular original shows, available on the free streaming network in a move similar to traditional syndication. Pluto TV's Amy Kuessner said in a statement at the time, "As the adoption of ad-supported streaming continues to accelerate, we are excited to build on that momentum and align with esteemed creators and producers in search of new ways to introduce audiences to their coveted collection of award-winning content."