For over a year now, I have relied solely upon Netflix for my television or home movie enjoyment, and the vast majority of that has been via the Netflix app for the Playstation 3.
Don’t get me wrong, I greatly appreciate the Netflix service… For less than ten bucks a month, I can watch whatever I want from a catalog full of way too many choices. That part, I have no complaints on — Netflix seems to devote a lot of their care & attention toward improving selection, tailoring the presented selection to users’ tastes, and so forth.
However, what seems to need plenty of work is basic usability of the Netflix app itself, and over time, these are the features I have wished for most.
Allow watched-status reset. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of saving whether I’ve watched something or not, but this becomes a mild nuisance particularly on television series. Given that multiple people may use the same Netflix account, series may be watched at different times — or I may re-watch a series. In that instance, having every episode already marked as “watched” makes it difficult to keep track of where you’re at in a series.
Solution: Allow per-title or per-account resets of watched-status. Netflix can keep an internal record of what we watch and how often; that’s just fine. They should, however, give their users an option to reset the scrubber (the video progress bar) on either a per-title basis or account-wide.
Allow ignoring of titles. The Netflix app on the Playstation 3 seems to be limited to displaying seventy-five titles per category. Not only should the display of these titles be adjusted to diminish already-watched titles (so that new-to-me content is more noticeable), but I should have the option of ignoring titles or entire categories (“Sports Movies”? No thanks!) so that the app can display different titles or categories which may be more interesting to me.
Solution: Just as it is currently possible to swap between general Netflix and Netflix for Kids in the app, there should be two more pages: a comprehensive list of previously watched titles and a list of ignored titles & categories, which of course would provide the option of un-ignoring them. Each title and category in the primary Netflix menu should have a simple “ignore this” button.
Allow individual profiles. Netflix works for an entire household, and a household conceivably can have several people therein, of all ages. The Playstation itself supports multiple user accounts. As it is now, any user of the Playstation can access the Netflix app with its saved login information, but everyone sees the same recently watched, has the same movie queue, has suggestions based on the same ratings, etc. This means that if there is a child in the house, the recently watched list will be a hodgepodge of more mature titles interspersed with cartoons. Surely I’m not the only one who sees a problem with that.
Solution: Netflix has allowed the setting up of separate profiles for their disk-based plans for some time (if not always?), so Netflix should leverage the Playstation’s built-in user management to allow per-account queues, watched lists, ratings, recommendations, etc. This would make the Netflix app far more useful, allowing for much more personalized experiences. And while they’re fixing profiles, Netflix should add the ability to delete disk-based profiles.
Randomize! One of the downsides to offering users hundreds of choices at a glance is that you can cause them to walk away, without choosing anything. There are plenty of times when I simply scroll through endless movies in the Netflix app, eventually settling on listening to music instead because I can’t decide what to watch. This is analysis paralysis in action.
Solution: Add “random” buttons! And don’t skimp on them either. Give us the choice to watch a random movie from our queue, random movie from a selected category, random movie from the entire instant streaming catalog, or a random episode of a selected series. Having precise control over what we watch is nice, but some of us aren’t yet ready for that level of power; the choice of random is just what we need!
That’s how I would improve the Playstation 3 Netflix app. I’m certain there are other ways it (and other Netflix applications) could be improved, and if you have any ideas, feel free to drop them in the comments. If you like these ideas, tweet this post to @Netflix, and let’s see if we can get any of these features implemented!