Netflix Allowing Thousands Of Users To Stream Unreleased Content
An important part of making a Hollywood hit movie is testing a new film with audiences first before releasing it to the public. Test viewings have been a part of film history since the turn of the 20th century, and that hasn’t changed as viewership has evolved to streaming over the internet. According to the Wall Street Journal, the streaming giant, Netflix, is about to expand its current preview program, the Netflix Preview Club, from 2,000 users to over 10,000 subscribers worldwide.
The Netflix Preview Club was established by the streaming platform last year to help them get feedback on their original shows and movies. The platform allowed for a select group of subscribers to watch content early and then answer survey questions about what they did and didn’t like about the show or movie. Netflix then passes the feedback on to the creators of the show, but the conglomerate is careful about pressuring changes as they pride themselves on allowing their creators freedom with their content.
At least twice, creators have accepted the feedback that they received from Netflix’s Preview Club, and the changes they made proved to be beneficial to the projects.
Don’t Look Up is a Netflix original film released in 2021, starring Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence. It follows two low-level astronomers (DiCaprio and Lawrence) who must convince the world to care about a meteor that is headed straight to earth. The film is a satire on global warming, and though it has some comedic elements, original viewers thought the film was way too serious.
When Netflix provided producers of the film with the feedback, they received from the Netflix Preview Club, writer and director Adam McKay decided to up the comedy in the film. Don’t Look Up went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. It won the Top 10 Films Award at the American Film Institute Awards, and it broke the Netflix record for weekly viewing hours of a film— a record it still holds.
Netflix also used previews to its advantage by accepting feedback for The Sandman series, starring Patton Oswald, Boyd Holbrook, and Tom Sturridge; and created by David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg. After making changes based on feedback, the show ended up appearing in Netflix’s Top 10 show list for seven weeks.
Netflix is announcing the expansion of the Preview Club at the end of a rough year for the company. While the streamer has had several wins in 2022, including the Addams Family series Wednesday breaking records for most viewership, the streaming giant had six consecutive months of losing subscribers, causing the company to take strategic action. While they did bounce back in the third quarter, the company plans to stick to a strict budget of $17 billion annually for new projects over the next two years.
Netflix Preview Club is not the only tester program in use by popular streamers. Amazon Prime has the Amazon Preview program, and Hulu also tests its films using a program called the Hulu Brain Trust.