Netflix tests a programmed linear TV and movie channel in France

Darrell Etherington
·1 min read
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 23: In this photo illustration, the Netflix media service provider's logo is displayed on the screen of a television on October 23, 2018 in Paris, France. The US video-on-demand company Netflix announced Monday it wants to raise an additional $ 2 billion to fund new productions. Netflix offers movies and television series on the Internet, the company has 137 million subscribers. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 23: In this photo illustration, the Netflix media service provider's logo is displayed on the screen of a television on October 23, 2018 in Paris, France. The US video-on-demand company Netflix announced Monday it wants to raise an additional $ 2 billion to fund new productions. Netflix offers movies and television series on the Internet, the company has 137 million subscribers. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

Netflix is testing out a programmed linear content channel, similar to what you get with standard broadcast and cable TV, for the first time (via Variety). The streaming company will still be streaming said channel -- it'll be accessed via Netflix's browser-based website -- and it will be initially available in France only, having rolled out to select areas on November 5, with plans to expand to more of France through December.

The channel is called Netflix Direct, and is exclusively available to subscribers of the regular Netflix streaming service. It will show TV shows and movies from France, the U.S. and other regions, selected from Netflix's existing content library. The reasoning behind the launch in France in particular, according to the streaming giant, is that a lot of viewers in the country tend to like watching programming without having to select what it is specifically they're going to watch next.

Netflix previously launched a test of a tool that provided that -- a "Shuffle" button that would play stuff it thinks you'd like at random from its recommendation trove. That was individual per users, however -- while the new Netflix Direct approach is a fixed slate of programming that's the same for everyone who tunes in, much more like traditional TV.

For all its strengths, Netflix definitely doesn't have the same ability to channel surf or essentially veg out and let the TV take away any decision fatigue, so this could be the answer to that. It's definitely an interesting experiment for Netflix, but we'll see if it catches on or expands to more geographies with different viewing preferences.