Netflix is moving into linear TV by testing out the popularity of a new scheduled channel via its service in France. A key European market for the streaming giant with around 9 million subscribers.
The new offering is called Direct and operates like a scheduled network, with an array of programming – including hits such as The Crown, La Case De Papel and Family Business – available at prescribed times.
The initiative marks Netflix’s first foray into real-time, scheduled programming. The service previously tested the option Shuffle Play, which wasn’t in real time but featured recommended programming to a sample of international users, explained a source at Netflix. The difference this time around is that the test is being localized in one country, rather than a sample of users.
Direct, which started its testing phase yesterday, is at present only accessible to subscribers via the global streamer’s web browser in France. Viewers can, however, continue to watch the programmes on demand as normal should they wish.
Netflix confirmed the test via Twitter, adding that the streamer had chosen France for the experiment because “traditional TV consumption is very popular” there. It added that “many viewers like the idea of programming that avoids having to choose what to watch.”
“Whether you are lacking inspiration or whether you are discovering Netflix for the first time, you could let yourself be guided for the first time without having to choose a particular title and let yourself be surprised by the diversity of Netflix’s library,” said the streaming giant.
The streamer described the service as a “real-time flow” that will be the same for all members, allowing viewers “to discover the best French, European and international content available on the service.”
Direct, which uses a grid that runs across the next five days, is to become available to all Netflix customers in France from December.