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Friday, April 24, 2020

The Netflix button on your remote is an advertisement?

It is a bizarre fact of technology that very good products will often have bad things associated with them due to the constraints of money and branding. Think obnoxious carrier logos and bloatware on smartphones, processor company stickers ruining the aesthetics of your sleek laptop.
It’s not just Netflix, but a variety of services that are willing to shell out cash for prominent placement on your remote. Amazon Prime, Hulu, Sling TV, ESPN+, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, Crackle, Rdio, HBO Now, and more all dot the remotes of TVs and set-top boxes. (Some of those services don’t even exist anymore!) But Netflix — both due to the fact that it was one of the first to do it back in 2011.
The unique strategy Netflix (NFLX) deployed to reach 90 million ...

There are TVs that cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, top-quality sets from major manufacturers, that come stuck with these billboards on their remotes. Why? Presumably because it pays well. According to Bloomberg, as of last year, Roku was charging $1 per customer for each button, in what adds up to “millions of dollars” of monthly fees that it can charge services like Netflix and Hulu.
It’s a strange form of advertising, almost the opposite ethos of Amazon’s now defunct Dash buttons. Instead of a branded hardware button you’ve specifically chosen to get more of your favorite products in front of you, they’re hardware buttons that users have no choice in.
But the Netflix button stands out in particular because it’s not just a bad piece of software that you have to delete or a sticker to peel off. It’s a physical part of your device ---- a piece of interactive advertising that you can’t disable or remove. Every time you turn on your TV, you are being reminded of whether you pay for Netflix. If you don’t, pressing the Netflix button will bring you to an otherwise worthless screen that tells you to subscribe.

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