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What drove Netflix to implement autoplay when viewing a movie detail view?

Recorded – watch the full episode on YouTube.

Why the choice to implement autoplay after the trailer played when viewing a movie detail view? Was there a A/B test behind that?

Jordanna Kwok: Yes, we did A/B test it, and we also A/B tested the ability to turn it off. So there is the ability to turn it off if you really dislike it – this is still in your control if you want to turn it off. But when we did A/B test it, we surprisingly did find that people found value. We do things where people find there's value, and they feel like this is actually meaningful to them discovering content.

"Some people might only want to read the synopsis, which is fine. But then other people don't want to read the synopsis, and we find there are those people out there who would rather watch this 30-second clip or trailer."

So, specifically for mobile – and I can only speak to mobile, because TV I'm sure is a different experience and probably has different expectations – but on mobile, for example, the expectation is it should be muted at minimum, so we're not going to go blasting something in the details page. If you look at the details page when you it up, it will start autoplaying either a trailer or a teaser – we have different things that try to ensure people get something that matches their expectations, perhaps based on using other apps.

If you think about it, these short clips do a better job to let people know what a show or movie is about, versus just the synopsis itself. So, some people might only want to read the synopsis, which is fine. But then other people don't want to read the synopsis, and we find there are those people out there who would rather watch this 30-second clip or trailer.

Paul Hudson: Yes, and now I'm thinking, in that particular case what would the definition of value be? Is it that they are discovering new shows to watch? Or is it simply that you’ve got a metric of how much time per day they spend on Netflix, and that's the main metric?

"The goal really is to give people that value and not to, say, drive them to watch 80 hours of Netflix a week."

Jordanna Kwok: I won't get too much into the metrics, because certainly we measure a lot of stuff. But for sure, if you think of the main thing, the most top-level thing that you can think of is do people subscribe the next month? That's the easiest thing to measure, and we call it retention. So if someone's subscribing the next month, we probably gave them value, they feel like whatever they're spending – $10 a month, $12 a month, whatever it is – they feel like they got something out of it.

If they're not finding value, they aren’t getting the bang for the buck, then, yeah, they're not going to subscribe. And so the goal really is to give people that value and not to, say, drive them to watch 80 hours of Netflix a week. I mean, whoever's doing that is getting tons of value already, we're not concerned about that. They're fine. We're more concerned with the people who are barely using it and we're like, why are you giving us all this money? You're barely using it, you're probably going to cancel anyway, so we want to make sure that people who are paying us are actually finding that it's valuable, so that's essentially what a lot of these A/B tests do.

This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.

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