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Netflix’s user experience is not for everyone

 May 2016

Netflix is an immensely successful video service, with 70M users all over the world. Netflix alone is estimated to generate more than 20% of the OTT consumer revenues globally and they will beyond any reasonable doubt reach 100M subscribers in a couple of years. It’s only natural that they’re the source of inspiration and aspiration for many fledgling video services around the world.

In many ways, Netflix is a good reference example. They have successfully seen the globalization of the industry, they had the audacity to go into content production and they should be lauded for the simplicity in business models and market communication. However, in many other ways I don’t think they’re a suitable comparison for other video services.

Firstly, most other video providers don’t plan for global scale. By having global ambitions Netflix needs to have a UX which works everywhere in the world. It will naturally need to have any local tastes removed to make it work as well as possible. Of course, Netflix may decide to localize the UX and not only the content, but so far they haven’t done this.

Secondly, Netflix plans for a mass market target audience. Their final goal is to be an attractive service for everyone. Of course, a service which caters for multiple interest groups will necessarily need have to be more generic in nature. Don’t get me wrong, I think Netflix do a good job at presenting a UX which fits many people, but that doesn’t mean that it’s by definition the “best” UX.

Finally, the Netflix service is content centric and not usage centric. Promotions center around new content being launched and are quite general rather specific.  If any personalization is done, it’s again content-centric based on previous consumption rather than specifics regarding features or UX. I think that some users may want a simpler version of Netflix and other users would like a more advanced version of Netflix with additional content and features, potentially for an additional fee. Just to take one example, Netflix doesn’t yet have any offline viewing capabilities, which would be very attractive for some users, but would add too much UX complexity for others.

Netflix is a great example of a successful video service and they have done a fantastic job at scaling the offering internationally, but from a pure UX perspective they should not be the only reference point for new video services.




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