“Play Something” – How Netflix Fights Decision Fatigue

It’s so hard to choose something to watch. It takes hours.

I love to watch Netflix, but I hate choosing what to watch. As I scroll back and forth endlessly, I go from comedies to new releases to international films and try to decide what mood I’m in. And I know that I am not alone

Every day, millions of people read through millions of decisions to find out what to watch on Netflix.

“We are faced with countless decisions on a day-to-day basis, and ultimately the on-demand ecosystem puts additional pressure on us,” says Elena Neira told Vulture. Neira is a professor at the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona and wrote the book Streaming Wars: The New Television.

Neira explains to Vulture that the excess of choices overwhelms our brains and causes “decision fatigue”. This freezes potential audiences and makes no decision at all – which is a big problem for a streamer who needs to keep your eyes on its content in order to move on. They don’t want you to give up and switch to another platform.

Netflix knows that. And they want to help.

Todd Yellin, vice president of product at Netflix, said in a statement: “Internet TV puts you in control: I watch what I want, when I want, and I get this nice buffet with content. Some people like that choice and they like it want your choice. But some people get analytical paralysis. ”

“Play Something” is a new display mode that makes it easier to find something to watch. That sounds like a dream, but how does it work?

You log in at the top of the browser page. Then the Netflix Matrix picks something it thinks you’ll like and just starts streaming. While the selection plays, an on-screen graphic will briefly appear explaining why this track was selected. So Netflix basically justifies this according to your taste.

If you don’t like it, you can press a Button to jump to another title. You can also go backwards if you regret your decision.

While that’s all well and good, some fear we’ve moved from high-end television to an era of just too many shows to watch. Combine that with movie title selection and you will always have people worried about missing out on something great. Or fear that they will pick the wrong thing.

If I had a suggestion for these companies, I would like to see films that are more grouped by series. Over the past year, I’ve struggled to see all of the Best Picture Ever winners, as well as every title in AFI’s Top 100 Movies. That made it a lot easier to choose what I would see every night. While I had to pay to rent a lot of them, I would have loved to click through streamers that had big categories like this one.

Even if they were curated lists like “Martin Scorsese’s Favorite Movies of All Time” or “The Best Movies About Horses”. I think curation is a very missed part of the streaming experience. But maybe this automated curation in “Play Something” is a welcome endeavor.

“People underestimate the 4,000 Silicon Valley engineers who get Netflix up and running every time they hit play,” said Ted Sarandos, CEO of Netflix, in a statement.

Well, I’m not caught underestimating them this time.

I hit “Play Something” and hope for the best.

Let me know if you give it a try and how it works for you.

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