Why Netflix doesn't have movie or TV show trailers

One of the main complaints about Netflix I hear from my friends is that there aren’t trailers immediately available for all titles when browsing the streaming service’s catalogue.

And it’s not just them. If you type in “Why doesn’t Netflix have…” in Google, this is what comes up:

It might seem to you like a crucial oversight on Netflix’s part, but there is actually a reason behind it. In a recent Reddit AMA, a purported Netflix employee (who showed a photo of a redacted pay stub as proof), explained why.

“We test trailers a lot, mostly for originals but also other stuff,” the person wrote. “We generally find that if we can get you to start watching, you will almost always keep watching. So we will sometimes trick you into watching. Sorry. I guess if enough people closed the tab in frustration we would change that.”

The basic point is that giving you the ability to watch a trailer doesn’t mean you’ll be less likely to quit a movie or show once you’ve started. So if Netflix’s goal is to help you find the right thing to watch, as quickly as possible, trailers actually could hinder that.

Former Netflix VP of Product Management, Gibson Biddle, gave his perspective on trailers in a Quora post.

“Tested including previews back in 2005,” he wrote. “Did not make it easier for folks to find movies they will love (e.g. did not increase number of movies folks added to their queue). There were also rights issues to showing previews for all movies via Internet — studios did not have rights for music playing in background, for instance. Never tested it in the streaming era.”

In short, Netflix wants to get you to watch as much Netflix as possible — and trailers don’t help. They don’t help you build a watch list or help you pick the “right” show or movie in the moment.

But if you are like me, and still want to watch trailers, Netflix does put trailers for all its original content on its YouTube channel.

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