Netflix has been screening original content ahead of release for subscriber feedback

Netflix has apparently been running subscriber-feedback panels for its original content before it’s scheduled for release, according to a Variety report. The publication noted Netflix has conducted these panels since May 2021.

The information was obtained by Variety from a copy of an email sent to a group of Netflix subscribers. For the panels, Netflix asks members to watch several upcoming movies and series over the course of around six months. Once they have finished watching a movie or series, members are asked to complete a survey explaining what they did or didn’t like and whether they would recommend the content to friends or family.

“We at Netflix are building a community of members to view and give feedback on upcoming movies and series, and we’d like to know if you’re interested in being a part of it,” Netflix wrote in the email to subscribers. The streaming service confirmed to Variety the feedback panels have only taken place in the U.S.

It doesn’t come as a surprise Netflix is conducting such thorough testing of its content and features. Netflix unveiled the beta version of its “shuffle play” feature –  a button which randomly generates a show or movie for the user – back in August 2020, before it was eventually released to the public in April 2021.

Netflix’s content evaluation goes past the pre-release stage. The service added in April a double-thumbs-up option subscribers can select after watching content. The feature is an alternative to the single thumbs-up and thumbs-down options for reviews.

Content is at the forefront of Netflix’s mind, especially since the service lost 200,000 subscribers in Q1 2022. Netflix on its earnings call told shareholders, “we’re doubling down on story development and creative excellence.”

Netflix has picked up the pace on original releases as the streaming market grows more diverse. In a recent column for Fierce Video, Alan Wolk points out when networks and studios began pulling their content from Netflix to make it available on their own streaming apps, Netflix made "the ill-fated decision to start pumping out as much original programming as possible." Not all of which hit the mark with audiences. The abundance of content may have persuaded Netflix to take on a more active approach to quality control.

Netflix will have to keep content quality, coupled with consumer feedback, in mind if it intends to roll out an ad-supported tier by year-end. Moreover the comedy series “Schitt’s Creek,” which has been hosted on Netflix since 2017, is due to exit the service on October 3, 2022, migrating to Hulu.

Netflix must also handle subscriber reactions to its password-sharing crackdown, which the company plans to address alongside the ad-supported tier rollout. Netflix has considered charging extra for users who share accounts outside of their households, having tested such a feature in March in three Latin American countries.