Netflix Is Testing a ‘Stories’ Copycat Feature for Running Ads

It's called Extras.

Because viewing just wasn’t enough, Netflix is now asking users to engage with its content. Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Yet another platform to idly watch “stories” on.

If you don’t already spend enough precious hours mindlessly watching friends’ Stories on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, now you’ve got another service to check. This time, it’s Netflix (NFLX) that wants viewers to engage with content via quick ephemeral clips promoting its content.

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A spokesperson confirmed to Variety that the company is indeed beta testing a Stories-like feature called Extras, which encourages viewers to share the ads on their other social media profiles.

“We are testing a feed of video extras in our mobile app to help fans connect more deeply with the titles they love and discover new ones to watch. These tests typically vary in length of time and by region, and may not become permanent,” the spokesperson said.

While it’s not surprising that Netflix wants to take advantage of using the format to advertise to its massive user base, it runs the risk of alienating customers who want to organically look for something to watch. A Stories fatigue has been setting in for years now, with users expressing dismay at constantly being fed disappearing Stories they have no interest in watching—especially on a service they already pay a monthly subscription fee to use. Not to mention, Netflix’s interface has caught flak for the nuisance of its auto-playing trailers, which tend to distract viewers from other shows they’re actually looking to binge.

Netflix has been on a beta testing spree recently, trying out features on select customers to figure out how to better market its original shows and movies. The move is seen as preparation by the company as it braces for new competition from upcoming streaming services like Disney and Apple TV+ later this year. Finding new ways to entice viewers to spend more time on the app could help it retain customers, especially once some of its popular shows move to those other companies’ platforms.

Last month, the streaming service began trials of its “Play a Popular Episode” section, which users spotted on the homepage of their Android Netflix app. Some of the “popular” episodes include titles like The Office, Arrested Development and Our Planet.

Advertising its original content to existing users is expected, but utilizing Extras is yet another step toward Netflix becoming more of a full-fledged social platform and less of the streaming service it’s become known and beloved as.

Netflix Is Testing a ‘Stories’ Copycat Feature for Running Ads