Netflix expands its Preview Club to boost engagement by letting viewers shape content

Friday, December 2, 2022 by Snacks
“Don’t Look Up” got a fan remix (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

“Don’t Look Up” got a fan remix (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Sneak previews get serious… If you hate the ending of Netflix’s next show, you might be able to change it. Netflix reportedly plans to expand its Preview Club, which lets viewers watch shows and movies early if they provide detailed feedback. The club has 2K members, but Netflix could expand it to tens of thousands by early next year.

  • “We take your feedback seriously”: Netflix launched the club over a year ago, and it’s used viewer feedback to update several original movies and shows.
  • Data-driven do-overs: Netflix said it added more humor to the Leo DiCaprio flick “Don’t Look Up” after viewers deemed it too serious and changed “The Sandman” after noticing that few finished the series.

Preview and review… For decades studios have screened movies to “test audiences” to predict how well they’ll perform. But Netflix is notorious for using data to make decisions (think: recommendation algos), though critics say data shouldn’t determine which IP to acquire or which shows to renew. Now it’s expanding Preview Club to boost engagement (this year it posted two consecutive quarters of subscriber losses for the first time).

  • Not just Netflix: Amazon uses an “Amazon Preview” program to gather feedback on its original content, and Disney has a similar “Hulu Brain Trust.”

The customer knows best… That’s why Netflix is tapping into its audience, instead of only relying on industry professionals and algorithms. Critics can disagree over whether a movie is good, because art is subjective. But subscriber-engagement numbers are not subjective — and they’re a priority at Netflix. By the numbers, “Don’t Look Up” succeeded: though the movie wasn’t a hit with critics, it holds Netflix’s record for most streaming hours in a single week.

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