The 1 Simple Thing About Netflix That People Can’t Stand

There’s one particular thing above all others that bothers people about Netflix. Is it their price hikes? No. Much as people complain, they usually absorb those.

Is it that Friends and The Office are going away? No. That may hurt, but there will be other places to watch those, and  it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other selection. 

It’s that darned auto-preview feature. You know, the one where if you hover over a title it starts playing a really loud and really annoying trailer? Maybe it’s “first-world problems,” but it’s caused enough consternation that people have tried to find ways to work around it. 

Netflix subscribers hate auto-preview

Netflix logo shown on a phone
Netflix logo | ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP via Getty Images

Once upon a time, not so long ago, you could browse Netflix quietly. If you didn’t know much about a particular title, you could always look up information about it, albeit usually off Netflix. Then you hit play and you were off to the races. 

Then, somewhere along the way, Netflix decided they wanted to “help” us. So if we stopped on a title for more than a couple of seconds, it would start showing us a trailer or some other footage from the movie/show.

It’s a good idea in theory, with the aim being to give people a sample of what a movie or show might be like. In reality, it often hurts more than it helps, according to Reddit users. The header on the discussion says “It’s almost 2020, can we please have the option to disable auto-preview?”

One person responds “I hate it. So much so that I don’t browse in Netflix anymore. I just search by title if I know what I’m looking for.”

Another says, “Same. I barely open Netflix any more because I can’t stand the auto-play. I quickly scan titles, not even giving it time to load the auto-play. I’m probably missing a lot of good content but I can’t stand it.”

Why is auto-preview annoying?

One of the reasons people hate the autoplay feature is the sheer volume. It’s like watching a movie with commercials on TV. In that case, you expect the commercials, but when they hit THEY ARE EXTREMELY LOUD.

Same deal with the Netflix preview. And if you’re not using a Kids account, the auto-preview feature might turn into nightmare fodder for unsuspecting little ones. 

The other more important problem is that the auto-preview simply isn’t that helpful. On a title actually owned by Netflix, like Stranger Things  or My Name is Dolemite, you’ll get a trailer, but it appears in a window where you can’t see the whole picture. And on a known commodity like Stranger Things, we don’t necessarily need a preview. 

On a title that Netflix doesn’t own, the effect is even worse. For example, in a documentary about the Beatles, you’ll get a short clip of the documentary, but since Netflix doesn’t own the music rights, they instead play a cheesy royalty-free music clip of music (probably not even played by humans) that sounds like the Beatles. How does this help us decide if we want to watch the show or not?

Is there a way to stop the preview?

The good news is, there is a way to stop the preview. The bad news is, it’s a bit complicated. And the worst news is that Netflix has no intention of doing away with auto preview.

According to this Thrillist piece, “When the feature was introduced in 2016, the company’s director of product innovation Stephen Garcia told Fast Company that the video previews were designed with the goal of cutting down on your browsing time by providing more information about the viewing choice you’re making. They want less scrolling. More watching.”

Some enterprising folks have developed browser extensions that prevent the autoplay, and that’s great if you watch Netflix on a computer. But If you have a smart TV or you use a streaming device like a Roku or a Fire TV, then you’re not so lucky.

To make matters worse, Amazon Prime has started using auto-preview too. 

In a fair and just world, subscribers should have the option to turn off the auto-preview feature if they want. If they do need to see a trailer to decide to watch a show, they should be able to click on that and play it if they want to. Give people the choice.