No. 14: Net­flix’s au­di­ence whis­perer

Chris Jaffe VP of prod­uct in­no­va­tion, Net­flix

Fast Company - - Contents -

Chris Jaffe finds in­no­va­tive ways to keep 125 mil­lion sub­scribers hooked.

Net­flix’s army of sub­scribers—

125 mil­lion and count­ing—drive the in­vestor con­fi­dence that saw the com­pany’s stock rise 60% in the first four months of this year. And it’s Chris Jaffe’s task to get those folks to click on, and en­joy, enough TV shows and movies that they’ll stick around. As the com­pany pre­pares to roll out 80 orig­i­nal movies in 2018, here’s how Jaffe is adapt­ing user ex­pe­ri­ence and play­ing match­maker to keep en­gage­ment high. LIMIT THE PRE­AM­BLE:

Ri­vals start pro­mot­ing their big tent­pole movies years in advance, but Jaffe says that strat­egy doesn’t work for Net­flix. “I’ve done ex­haus­tive test­ing—9, 12, 18 months out—and it doesn’t seem to res­onate,” he says. Jaffe uses Net­flix’s menus, in-app no­ti­fi­ca­tions, and even old-fash­ioned email to alert peo­ple to new con­tent when it’s “ac­tion­able.” TAI­LOR THE PITCH:

Jaffe says he is “ex­cited to have peo­ple watch Bright or Stranger Things the mo­ment it launches,” but un­like tra­di­tional en­ter­tain­ment brands, Net­flix doesn’t need block­buster au­di­ences the first week­end. Jaffe leans on data to fig­ure out when it’s best to sug­gest a show to view­ers. If you’ve been watch­ing pro­grams with strong fe­male leads, Net­flix’s in­ter­face may rec­om­mend Glow. It’s new to you. OF­FER A TASTE:

“Our mem­bers watch a lot of trail­ers in our mo­bile UI,” he says, so in April he in­tro­duced Pre­views, a stand-alone view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence where users can watch orig­i­nal 30-sec­ond clips in the ver­ti­cal for­mat. “When you open Net­flix, you’re used to see­ing rows of posters. Now you can just cy­cle through and watch trail­ers all day.”

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