Netflix users often joke that they spend more time scrolling through the app on the hunt for something to watch than they do actually watching the shows. Netflix knows it has just 90 seconds to convince users to watch something on the app before they give up and log off, the company tells me.
Speaking to Business Insider at Mobile World Congress, the company demoed a new feature it is testing in order to encourage users to trial new shows and movies: autoplaying video trailers.
The idea is really simple: If you hover over a title for a couple of seconds, a trailer will automatically begin to play.
Joris Evers, Netflix’s vice president of communications in Europe, explained that the company wants to replicate the classic TV experience: If you turn on the TV, you get moving pictures.
He added: “We are taking things that people are used to from classic TV and using them to make Internet TV better, with the viewer in charge of what you watch, when you watch it, and on whatever device.”
The traditional TV movie trailer is around two minutes, but Netflix’s trailers are likely to be a lot shorter as users are likely to be watching several before they make their final decision on what to watch.
The company is currently A/B testing the feature with around 300,000 users. The three executives Business Insider spoke to seemed fairly confident this is a feature that will make it out of testing and officially launch at some point soon.
Netflix already has a team working on the trailers. Evers described the task as a “Herculean effort.”
The “enhanced content team”—the same division that creates the text synopsis you see alongside each title—is testing multiple videos for each title on the service. Netflix is the home of an estimated 13,000-plus titles, so the team has its work cut out.
The team also has to be mindful of spoilers—“you don’t want to show Bryan Cranston dying,” Evers said—and it needs to consider whether content might be offensive.
To demonstrate this, Evers hovered over the raunchy adult sitcom Californication. The trailer showed various scenes of lead actor David Duchovny before cutting to a bikini-clad women emerging from a swimming pool.
“And that’s probably all we’d be able to show,” joked Chris Jaffe, Netflix’s vice president of product innovation.