Remember the days of flipping through mainstream cable channels in a seemingly endless quest to find something to watch? Nowadays we're caught up in scrolling through streaming platform libraries for hours on end, too afraid to commit to diving into a series or film we might not enjoy. Will the age-old plague of having hundreds of options yet nothing to watch ever go away?
Well, Netflix is attempting to stop chronic scrolling by dishing out an old-school solution: a standard TV channel.
Now, we know how this sounds—how is this modernization? The whole point of streaming services is to allow users to pick their poison. But, according to a statement from Netflix, the "channel," called Direct, is the answer to "viewers [liking] the idea of programming that doesn't require them to choose what they are going to watch."
Direct, which is currently being tested in France, is a linear channel that shows "real-time, scheduled programming," so the task of choosing what to watch is removed from the equation. The idea is to let the viewer "be guided" by Netflix through the platform's diverse library.
Some see it, though, as Netflix "inventing" something that has already been invented and around for the better part of a century.
Netflix is testing a new kind of streaming experience where shows are played, for everyone watching, at scheduled times and with no user choice about what to watch
Congratulations on inventing TV, Netflixhttps://t.co/85gXxBhdBf
— Nieman Lab (@NiemanLab) November 9, 2020
Though the Direct channel could be an enticing option for non-subscribers (think of it like a preview of what Netflix has to offer), the streaming giant only plans to release the Direct option through their monthly billed subscription service, according to CNet. So, even though subscribers have the option to choose from the Netflix library, they can also choose to leave what to watch up to the Netflix gods.
It'll be interesting to see how Netflix subscribers react to Direct when and if it becomes more widely available after the trial in France is wrapped up in December. Have we really come all this way in home entertainment only to go back to linear TV channels? Perhaps the return of the DVD—or, better yet, the VHS—is in our near future.