Netflix launches Direct, its first (sort of) TV Channel

Netflix seems to take a step back with its first "TV channel", Hattie Metcalfe investigates

Harriet Metcalfe
18th November 2020
I think it's safe to say that Netflix is one of the few things that has made 2020 bearable. From Tiger King to season four of The Crown... well, to paraphrase Smash Mouth, the shows keep coming and they don't stop coming.
The shuffle button didn't really catch on. Credit: The Verge and Netflix

And this has always been the issue with Netflix. For all its perks, there's definitely an insane amount of stuff on there and for someone as indecisive as myself, it makes choosing something to watch much harder (and don't even get me started about trying to watch Netflix with my family). So to solve this ever eternal dilemma, Netflix introduced the shuffle button - an option that allowed Netflix to choose for you. Great!

Except when I used it, Netflix chose some random episode of Gilmore Girls... despite me already having seen it... because I've rewatched the show at least three times...

Okay, so the shuffle button hasn't really worked out. What's next then? Well despite revolutionising the way we watch TV by giving us the option to watch a whole series in a day if we wanted, rather than waiting on a week by week basis, Netflix has gone back to the drawing board. And they've come up with the very thing that sparked their revolutionary streaming platform: a TV channel.

Direct shows a 24-hour grid with the most popular programmes in that region.

Already being trialled out in France, "Direct" is described by Netflix as a web-based experience that’s the same for everyone who watches it: a real-time service that gives our members in France some of the best French and European content.” Direct shows a 24-hour grid with programmes being refreshed every few days depending on what's popular on Netflix in that region.

Weekly shows like Strictly Come Dancing have been giving many some much needed normalcy, Credit: IMDb

And whilst we often think we live in a binge-watching culture, linear-television is a welcome break for many of us (I know my life is currently planned around Strictly, Bake Off and Mock the Week). It's nice to have something to actually sit down and tune into, even if it's something you could watch whenever you want.

The more I think about it, the more surprised I am that Netflix hasn't taken advantage of this sooner. The blueprint is right there with streaming services like All 4 and BBC iPlayer allowing us to catch up on any linear-TV we might've missed - but with one caveat; the shows/films are often only on there temporarily. And I can't see Netflix keeping that caveat, even with the introduction of Direct. Yes, it does remove TV shows/films (I'm still bitter about them removing When Harry Met Sally), but these often aren't Netflix produced.

Netflix Direct might not be heading directly to the UK for now, but I'm excited to see it arrive, actually. Hopefully, it'll be a good fix to that dreaded question... 'what do you want to watch?'

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AUTHOR: Harriet Metcalfe
English Literature BA student. Loves film, TV, books and coffee. Thinks "Thor: The Dark World" gets too much hate. Twitter: @hattiemetcalfe

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