Netflix innovation Downloads For You promises to enhance your mobile experience — is it a good thing?
We’ve all picked up a remote and flicked around for viewing inspiration. For every easy decision, there are times we peruse the options. This is the moment Netflix innovation Downloads For You wants to intervene if you’re on the move with no easy way to stream fresh content. It’s an algorithm that pre-downloads new content, not just next episodes of subscribed series. The background and details of rollout (it’s Android only for now) are available from Netflix, but we wonder about wider implications.
If you’re out and about or just somewhere with limited bandwidth (overseas, on plane, ferry…) the ability to stream some previously downloaded content you might like is a step up (at least) on having nothing to watch. You might not like what you’ve been offered, but you aren’t any worse off, except for the time invested. Configured correctly, you’ll download over wi-fi and have plenty of space on your device, so where’s the harm?
Netflix wants to make money. It does this from subscribers, and needs to keep your eyes on its content. If you aren’t watching a Netflix show, are you watching someone else’s? It’s better for them to offer you the chance to consume more of their content, and you may end up pleased at catching something new.
Is there a downside?
This is all part of a bigger picture, the march of the algorithms. Netflix has a long history of making shows that work based on analysis of viewing data. It recommends titles, changes thumbnails and wants to get you watching all based on your history in comparison to everyone else. There’s a fascinating recent BBC piece (including opinion from Martin Scorsese) that both looks at how algorithms are used by all streaming companies and decries the standardisation of the viewing experience and the lack of attention ‘more worthy’ content may get. The fear is one day film will all be consumer led and not an art.
Is there a conclusion?
The growth of streaming is leading to work, entertainment and not likely to fade any time soon. Did TV destroy cinema? Did the internet destroy radio? There’s a place for art, a place for challenging content and a place for pure entertainment. There are consequences of any change, and some are unforeseen. Is AI going to make our every decision redundant as we get second guessed at everything? Perhaps, but for now if you need a second opinion on what to watch or listen to, you can rely on us at Cultbox.
Until then we’re just going to see what shows we’ve been recommended…