The economics of Netflix’s buttons

Buttons may be simple things, but their impacts are far from it.

On Monday, Netflix released a “Two Thumbs Up” button — allowing users to indicate when they really like something — after nearly a year of testing.

The economics of Netflix’s buttons

Netflix buttons like these may seem simple, but their backstories and impacts are far from it — especially for 2. Let’s discuss.

On your average day…

… Netflix’s “Skip Intro” button is pressed 136m times. Add it up, and 195 cumulative years are saved by skipping intros daily.

Oddly enough, the idea came ~6 years ago when Cameron Jonhson, director of product innovation at Netflix, was watching “Game of Thrones.”

For the uninitiated, the “Game of Thrones” title sequence is beautiful, but long AF. (Napkin math: The ~2-minute intro accounts for ~4% of episodes’ total lengths in season one.)

Johnson sometimes skipped ahead, though often made the painful error of skipping too far.

And he wasn’t alone

His team discovered that Netflix viewers were also manually skipping ahead in the first 5 minutes of shows 15% of the time.

After running tests and landing on “Skip Intro” as the name, reviews were phenomenal. One Netflix engineer quipped, “I’m not sure that if you put a button that said ‘free cupcake’ that it would get more clicks.”

Netflix formally added Skip Intro to TV in 2017.

The other button…

… is the Netflix button itself, that with one touch sounds the budummmm and propels you into Netflixland.

On Jan. 4, 2011, when Netflix had just 16m members in North America, the company announced a partnership to place the button smack-dab in the middle of many TV remotes.

  • For Netflix, it meant every time people saw a remote, they were either reminded how easily they could use Netflix or that they weren’t a member.
  • For TV manufacturers, it meant payments from Netflix. Given the win-win, nowadays it’s common practice and costs ~$1 per remote.

Speaking of buttons, we want to know — what’s your favorite?

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Topics: Streaming Media

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