With Spotify pushing podcasts recently and Twitter making audio tweets an option, many apps are focusing on audio more than ever before. But if audiobooks and podcasts can tell narrative stories through an audio medium, why not just listen to some of your favorite television shows and movies? Netflix is making this a possibility, as the company is currently offering an audio-only mode on its Android app for select users.
Android Police points out that Netflix has been adding plenty of new options lately for Android users, such as the ability to change video playback speed, and a screen lock option. Now, certain Android users have the option to turn the video off when watching Netflix on their phones. The service seems to work the same as usual, but instead of burning through data by watching video, users can simply listen to their favorite Netflix programs with a blank screen instead.
The Verge states that several of the Android users that work for their site have yet to receive this option, so it looks as though Netflix is rolling this out to only a select few users. It’s also not clear if this audio-only option will be available beyond Android, such as on iPhones or when watching at home. Nothing like listening to Ozark or Big Mouth from the comfort of your own home!
Having become one of the dominant streaming services in the market over the years, Netflix has continued to try and find new ways to entice viewers to its service. Just earlier this year, Netflix announced they would be testing out an actual television channel called Direct in France. The channel would take the choice out of the viewer’s hand, instead working like an old-fashioned network, with set times and days for certain programs. Now that Netflix has conquered streaming, it’s time to work back to the old days, apparently.
Considering so many people have been staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic this year, many have apparently been using their new influx of free time by catching up with Netflix. Earlier this year, Netflix announced they had seen a 27.58% increase year-over-year. In October of this year, Netflix was said to have over 195 million paid subscriptions worldwide, with 73 million of those coming from the United States. In July, Netflix became the largest entertainment media company by market capitalization.
But Netflix has always been a company to test the waters of new ideas. Netflix first became groundbreakers when they began shipping DVDs directly to consumers, but soon, the service also became one of the first major services to offer original streaming television shows and films online. By trying out new ways to experience Netflix, the company is simply exploring the opportunities that others haven’t taken yet and seeing what sticks.
If this audio-only format does succeed for Netflix, it will be interesting to see if Netflix produces more content that will allow for this new way of “watching.” It seems unlikely that Nailed It! or Breaking Bad would work quite as well without video, but shows like Schitt’s Creek or New Girl could certainly fit this new audio-only format. It’ll be interesting to see how Netflix utilizes this new idea, or if it will just become a cool concept that doesn’t quite take off.