Netflix expands its global test audience

Netflix is beefing up its semi-secret test audience from a couple of thousand to tens of thousands.

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Netflix expands its global test audience


The Future. Netflix is beefing up its semi-secret test audience from a couple of thousand to tens of thousands. If the expansion consistently provides relevant feedback that doesn’t just make the content better, but also is watched by more people on the service, Netflix may start to pull back on its typical strategy of giving creators few notes on their projects.

Beta viewing
Netflix wants to crowdsource many more opinions on its films and shows

  • Netflix’s “Netflix Preview Club” is expanding from roughly 2,000 members to “tens of thousands around the world” next year, reports WSJ.
  • Members watch films and shows prior to their public release on the streamers and then share their opinions via an online survey.
  • It’s similar to the classic test screenings that traditional studios do, but has actually only been around for a little under two years.
  • Additionally, all employees can also watch content ahead of time — Netflix tracks and analyzes that viewership to try to get a sense of what will be a hit.

Other streamers have similar test-viewing programs, such as Amazon Prime’s “Amazon Preview” and Hulu’s “Hulu Brain Trust.”

Fine-line feedback
Here’s the big question: does the Preview Club having a strong enough impact to warrant the expansion? The streamer definitely thinks so.

  • Prior to last December’s release of Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, a US preview audience noted that the film came off as too serious. So, the filmmakers lightened up the tone.
  • The film ultimately became Netflix’s most-viewed film in four viewing weeks and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
  • Prior to this summer’s release of the long-awaited The Sandman series, Netflix noticed that employees weren’t finishing the series. So, the creators made some changes, and the completion rates improved.
  • The show then stayed in Netflix’s US Top 10 for seven consecutive weeks.

While Netflix is happy to provide insights to its creators, it walks a fine line in actually asking for any of them to be implemented due to its famous hands-off approach. The creators themselves can do with the data what they please.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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