Keep Watching Section

Weekly I/O#41

Why are "Keep Watching" sections always hidden at the very bottom of the streaming apps? Misalignment of incentives between company and user.

Podcast: Computers Can Do Things

When launching the streaming app, the first thing many people would like to do is to continue watching the TV show they haven't finished. However, many streaming apps do not display the "Keep watching" section at the top, which frustrates many users [1].

In the article An Unsolicited Streaming App Spec, the author John Siracusa suggests that "On launch, it must be immediately obvious how to resume watching whatever the user was watching previously." Nevertheless, the companies tend to hide the "continue watching" section at the bottom now because this can increase "engagement", which might be measured by how long the user stays, interacts, and browse the homepage. Before you scroll to find the "continue watching" section, you will have to scroll through those shows that companies want you to click.

After publishing the article, John Siracusa noted in the following article Streaming App Sentiments, that a reader sent a story of how customer satisfaction gets sacrificed on the altar of "engagement."

"There was an experiment at Hulu last year to move "Continue Watching" below the fold (down 2 rows from where it was). This was done with a very small group of users. It was so successful that the increased engagement was projected to generate more than $20 million a year. The experiment was immediately ended and the new position was deployed to all users."

Twenty million more revenue probably is why they rolled out this annoying feature to every user. However, it might be worth pondering whether the estimated revenue growth was only based on increased engagement metrics but ignored the fact that there's an effective way to measure how frustrated the user experience is.

Quoting the Reddit user sudifirjfhfjvicodke: "You have to scroll through a few rows of crap you don't watch to get to the crap that you do watch. It's an awful, annoying trend, but it's probably here to stay."

Is user-friendly technology always better technology? It might not be the case for the company if there's a misalignment of incentives between company revenue growth and user experience.

[1] According to this article and Reddit.

Want to learn 5 bite-sized cool things like this every week to understand the world better? Sign up below for my free weekly newsletter and learn together!

Weeklyio Banner