Hoping to keep viewers engaged with its content, Netflix today announced the launch of a new section called “Latest” in its TV app, designed to highlight the streaming service’s recent and upcoming releases. The addition isn’t just another row or two within the main Netflix homepage. Instead, the “Latest” section gets its own dedicated area in the Netflix TV app, which is accessible from the left-hand sidebar navigation.
Here, it’s found beneath the “Home” button and above the links to the dedicated “Movies” and “TV Shows” pages.
The section will be personalized to the end user, based on their viewing history, the company says.
At the top of “Latest” is a row that showcases new content that arrived this week, which is then followed by two rows showing content that’s due to arrive this week and the next.
Users also can click on these future releases and set alerts to remind them when the TV show or movie they’re interested in watching has arrived.
Netflix says the feature is now globally available on its TV app, which means you’ll only find it on streaming devices like the Fire TV, Apple TV or Roku, for instance, or on other smart TV or game console platforms. However, the company tells TechCrunch it already has a similar feature for Android users and is currently testing the “Latest” section on iOS.
The company first spoke to Variety about the addition, adding that the personalized suggestions update several times per day.
Netflix Director of Product Innovation Cameron Johnson told the outlet the experience was similar, in a way, to movie trailers, as it’s also designed to get people interested in upcoming releases.
“Netflix continues to be a first-mover in developing a better member experience in streaming. The ‘Latest’ feature will help people discover new and upcoming content they will love in a way that’s simple, fun and easy,” Johnson told TechCrunch.
However, the launch comes at a time when people will soon be considering the value they receive from their Netflix subscription. The company recently posted a disappointing quarter, where it announced it lost U.S. subscribers for the first time since 2011 and broadly missed estimates of 5 million subscriber additions, by adding just 2.7 million new subscribers globally.
The streamer blamed its light content slate for the declines. While it did claim a couple of bright spots in Q2, like the dark comedy Dead to Me and the limited series When They See Us, a good bit of Netflix’s original content is becoming formulaic and copycat-ish.
It’s now doing its own version of Project Runway, and has a slate of shows that are obviously inspired by (if not precisely copied from) popular reality TV hits like Million Dollar Listing, Say Yes to the Dress, Cupcake Wars, Top Chef, The Bachelor, Real Housewives and others. It manages to snag beloved stars, but then puts them into mediocre fare. It underwhelms with its by-the-numbers original films.
That said, Netflix deserves credit for how far it has come since its early days as a mail-order movie service. Today, its multibillion-dollar investments in original content has led to the streamer being best known for its own breakout hits, like Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards, for example.
But as its sheds its catalog content in favor of shifting its audience to in-house productions, its image has changed as well. It’s no longer thought of as a one-stop-shop for anything you want to watch combined with a rich slate of quality originals. And now it’s poised to lose some of its most popular licensed content — Friends and The Office — as the traditional media license holders move into the streaming market.
Variety had reported in July that content from NBCU, Disney/Fox and Warner Bros. accounts for 60%-65% of Netflix’s viewing hours.
Now Netflix is facing competition from Disney+, which will undercut Netflix’s pricing at $6.99 per month and be offered in a $12.99 per month bundle that also includes Hulu and ESPN+. That’s the same price as Netflix’s standard U.S. plan.
More than ever, Netflix needs to keep its viewers locked in, and one of the best ways to do this is to remind them there are new movies and shows they will want to watch.
Image credit: Netflix