4 Ways Netflix Could Improve Their Playstation 3 App

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

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Rick Beckman