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Netflix and chill: how the streaming service can make the TV social again

If you regularly use Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or similar TV streaming services, you have probably felt the battle between different media competing for your all-important television time. Even if you stick to one TV platform for the most part, there is a whole news cycle around the show to keep track of and contribute to – not to mention the friends and colleagues who tell you about your new favorite – or least favorite – shows.

It is no wonder that some of us eventually double: text ' and tweet during the episode, share video ' s of ourselves on the couch on Instagram, post comments on every YouTube video we watch and try to be social possible to stay while being held hostage by different screens.

Especially for Netflix – a platform so associated with millennials that "Netflix and chill" has its own Wikipedia page – it is quite possible that we see more built-in social functions emerge, to improve the viewing experience and to keep users within the Netflix platform, instead of letting them talk to other services (WhatsApp, Twitter, etc.) about what they just viewed.

We spoke to Michael Pazaratz, CEO of the app for social messages Rave, to find out if more social functions will be the way forward for this type of TV streaming services.

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You, me and the TV screen

If you are wondering what an app has to do with this, Rave was founded five years ago to try to bring more social functions into today's streaming culture.

The iOS and Android app essentially synchronizes Netflix, YouTube or Vimeo videos (or music tracks) between your and your friends' smartphones or tablets, meaning you can respond and respond to each other knowing that you are in the same place in a video – and at the same time have overlapping text comments on / below the feed.

But given the rapid transition from specifically timed broadcasts and on-demand viewing, that social element is harder to find than ever.

"You can now see what you want, where you want, when you want," he says. "There is no longer any reason to meet around the TV at 9 p.m., if you can simply have a whole series on your iPad. And while this is broadly a good (and irreversible) phenomenon, it has led to a shift from common to lonely looking, and something has been lost in the process. "

Striking shows such as GoT – or the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel – attract millions of viewers when new episodes land.

But how can synchronized videos & messaging functions help? “Chat via text or voice mimics the social dynamics of being in the same space. Sometimes it is enough to know that you are looking together. "

Of course, any TV program with enough hype around it can get a large audience to watch if a new episode drops – whether online or terrestrial. A study by electronics company Epson has also shown that more than half of UK parents surveyed view TV as a social activity that "can help bring families closer together".

But to make contact on a larger scale, the commentary is already winning during real-time video ' s. With Twitch streams, Facebook Live video ' s and YouTube radio stations, users can leave comments and responses to what they watch, which means viewers can participate together rather than a mere lonely experience.

Twitch has popularized live streams, with viewers responding collectively to feeds.

It is a common phenomenon in China – where online video ' s often a stream of so-called ' bullet comments ' , named after the fast-moving projectiles that dominate the screens of Space Invaders-style arcade cabinets. These bullets are placed over the image itself, rather than below or next to it, with typed thoughts, responses, emoji ' s and exclamations from the different audience members who all merge with the visual information that takes place on the screen (via LogicMag / @ xuhulk).

As if someone's texting in the cinema wasn't bad enough, you'd think – but it appeals to a broader trend of a generation that grew up on social media and understandably has a purpose for those social functions in all types of content.

According to Hannah Marcus, a strategist at media consulting firm Discover.AI, it doesn't stop there – with the emergence of social viewing platforms that people see "write and communicate directly about the content they are viewing, which has subsequently changed to formally interacting with the content itself (for example, covering shocking scenes with text). "

Marcus adds that “the US and the UK are getting better at handling multiple claims to their attention, as evidenced by the increase in the use of subtitles and multilingual content (distributed through Western platforms). But it is far removed from this kind of collective multi-viewing experience. "

What does this have to do with Netflix?

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So far, TV streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu can withstand too many features that interrupt or distract the content that viewers have viewed – with many of us paying that subscription to annoying ads in the middle of our shows.

But attitudes are changing, and Netflix is ​​a company that has repeatedly shaken its services to attract a wider audience, from a DVD rental service to a colossus in online TV that streams a huge producer of original content.

With the Netflix app you can also share ' ' which movie or TV you show on social media platforms – and is a discovery feed ' Extra ' s ' tested that offers you information and trailers about your favorite titles. Why no subsequent responses?

"Without innovation, even the best products and business models reach their limits," says Pazaratz, referring to the recent stagnation in Netflix subscriber growth. “While popular new shows are crucial, users are also looking for new and enticing ways to enjoy them. When the competition is warming up, Netflix will certainly not do so if others do not innovate. "

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Okay, but … is this something we actually want?

Pazaratz is quite adamant, this is something that viewers yearn for: “How many people go to the movies alone? Or a music concert? Entertainment has always been a social activity and people are given the option to enjoy it together. "

However, that doesn't seem to bother those of us who like to watch a few episodes of Friends go to bed for us, or even go to a movie theater or theater for the experience of some anonymity in a crowd. There are people among us who like to consume content in a more introverted way – away from the social pressure of discussion in more public forums such as twitter.

One of the strong points of Netflix is ​​how it focuses on the content you view, without ads to interrupt you or too much of the outside world coming in – unless you want to of course. TV streaming services may seem to be more social in the future, but they need to be careful not to lose focus on why people subscribe – and to be more focused on social interaction than the TV shows and movies that cause it.

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