Streaming giant Netflix is testing a linear television channel in France. The channel, reported by Variety as being named “Direct” is only available to subscribers and will only be accessible via a web browser, which comes on set-top boxes in France as part of various distribution deals with telecoms companies.
The channel will offer feature films from France and the United States, as well as international movie content, and will also feature TV series from its packed streaming lineup.
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This venture is Netflix’s first real-time experiment. The company has tested Shuffle Play in the past but the service was not offered in real-time and simply presented recommended programming to select international subscribers. This time around, though, the test will be limited to a single country as opposed to a group made up of users from all over.
Netflix said it chose France because of the “consumption of traditional TV [in France] and “many viewers like the idea of programming that doesn’t require them to choose what they are going to watch.”
“Whether you are lacking inspiration or whether you are discovering Netflix for the first time, you could let yourself be guided for the first time without having to choose a particular title and let yourself be surprised by the diversity of Netflix’s library,” Netflix added.
This foray into the world of live TV may have come about due to the possible fatigue experienced by users who binge-watched series recommended to them through Netflix’s algorithm. Netflix viewership increased significantly during the lockdown period forced by the COVID-19 pandemic as many people had no choice but to turn to entertainment for much longer than they typically would.
The channel soft-launched in France on Thursday and will be available to more people in the country by early December.
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