Netflix is continually working to make its streaming video service more personalized, adding features that will make individual users keep coming back for more. The company’s latest effort in that direction is its introduction of the “My List” feature, which provides a new way for users all around the world to save a list of movies and TV shows they want to watch later.
Over the years, Netflix has worked hard to provide the most relevant movie and TV titles recommendations to its viewers. And for the most part, it’s succeeded in that quest: After all, most of its viewing comes from the recommendations that are made on its users’ home screens.
Even so, there are a number of times when a user will stumble upon a title that he might want to watch, but maybe not right now. Let’s say a horror film is recommended but it might not be the right moment to watch it… It could be that a girlfriend or a kid is in the room, or maybe he’s just not in the mood to see teenagers hacked and slashed into bits. Maybe he’d rather watch Steel Magnolias for the 40th time instead.
In those cases, the subscriber will be able to click the ‘Add To My List’ button in the video’s description, and it will be added to a group of titles that you can come back to and watch later.
For U.S. users, the ‘My List’ functionality will resemble a feature that Netflix had long made available to its users — the idea of an Instant Queue. That feature had been born out of Netflix’s DVD business, back when having a queue of titles mailed to its users actually mattered. Users could swap movies they wanted to see up and down the list, allowing them to manage which DVD would arrive in their mailbox next.
The problem was that streaming users didn’t use the Instant Queue in the same fashion. They might have added movies or TV shows to their queues as de facto bookmarks to remind themselves of titles that they wanted to come back to. But the ordering was largely haphazard, and frankly didn’t provide a whole lot of value unless they were the type of people to check off movies that they’d seen and cleared them off the list.
And for some users, the Instant Queue became sort of a collector’s bookshelf, where they kept all the titles they wished to come back to and watch over and over again. (I know, because I was in this latter camp.)
The introduction of the ‘My List’ feature keeps some of the same functionality of the Instant Queue, such as saved videos being displayed across all devices used by a subscriber. But the company is also seeking to improve on the experience in many ways. For instance, the list will be featured prominently on the user’s home screen, providing easy access to the titles that have been saved there. It will also be rolled out to all Netflix subscribers, not just those who live in the U.S.
More importantly, though, the list isn’t necessarily tied to the order in which titles were added. It doesn’t behave in the way the Instant Queue did, with titles added more recently appearing at the very bottom of the list. Instead, the ‘My List’ order is dynamically updated on the home screen, to display titles that you’re most likely to want to watch. That automated sorting is a big step up from the manual sorting that users had been faced with in their Instant Queues.
That said, if you’re a stickler for managing the order in which the movies you want to come back to appear, you can skip the automation and fix the list yourself in the “My List Management” section of your account page. And if you don’t really use it at all, the “My List” row will make its way down the recommended content on your home screen.
The “My List” feature, which is becoming available today, is just the latest in Netflix’s efforts to create a more personalized experience for its users. That includes the recent addition of individual user profiles, a feature that began to appear earlier this month.
For Netflix, the more personalized the experience is, the more video that its viewers are likely to watch. And the more video its viewers watch, the longer they stay subscribed to the service. With that in mind, providing users with a new feature that will give them the ability of saving titles they want to watch later only makes sense.