Can’t Decide What to Stream? Netflix Is Testing a TV Channel of Scheduled Programming

Through its new "Direct" channel, Netflix will offer subscribers a curated block of scheduled programming for the first time.
"The Queen's Gambit"
"The Queen's Gambit"

One of the biggest complaints thrown at Netflix is that its non-curated library can be a nightmare from which to choose a film or television series to stream. It’s safe to assume a majority of Netflix subscribers have at least once found themselves endlessly scrolling while figuring out what on earth they want to watch. Filmmaker Christian Petzold said last month he “hates” Netflix because the lack of curation gives him “a headache.” Well, Netflix is finally getting into the curation business with Direct, a new linear channel made up of scheduled programming featuring international and U.S. feature films and TV series available on the platform.

With Direct, Netflix is heading into “real-time, scheduled programming” for the first time in its history. The linear channel will only be available to subscribers and is getting a test trial this month in France only. Direct is the equivalent of a Netflix television channel provided to subscribers. The streaming giant said it chose France to test out the service because of “the consumption of traditional TV [in France],” adding, “Many viewers like the idea of programming that doesn’t require them to choose what they are going to watch.”

Netflix continued in a statement: “Whether you are lacking inspiration or whether you are discovering Netflix for the first time, you could let yourself be guided for the first time without having to choose a particular title and let yourself be surprised by the diversity of Netflix’s library.”

The Direct platform had a soft launch in France on November 5. Netflix says the service will become more broadly available in France in early December. Netflix boasts approximately 9 million subscribers in France.

Netflix has been having a massive 2020 when it comes to new original content. Six of the streamer’s original movies released in 2020 launched with the biggest opening streaming numbers the company has ever seen, while series such as “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” “Emily in Paris,” and “The Queen’s Gambit” have dominated social media buzz this fall. While Netflix has tested a Shuffle Play feature in the past, allowing the platform to pick a show or film for the subscriber, Direct is the first time Netflix is using real-time schedule blocks like a traditional television channel.

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