Even if I just canceled my Netflix account, I know Netflix does a lot right. But the more I think about the state of streaming, the more I realize Netflix — just like every streaming app, to be fair — is making a mistake that they might not even realize is a mistake.
One of Netflix's biggest weapons is word of mouth, as it relies on personal recommendations and FOMO to help make sense of its impossibly large library of original shows and movies. Heck, Netflix even made its audience numbers slightly-public with the Netflix Top 10, as it tried to help people know what was popular.
But with a little engineering, Netflix could make it even easier for fans to share their love of shows in a modern and lively way. Sure, there is a "Share" function in some Netflix apps, but Netflix could do so much more. And Netflix is big enough where it shouldn't let some other service beat it to the punch, either.
Taking photos of Netflix is no fun
If you're really loving a moment from your favorite Netflix show — say it's Henry Cavill and Anya Chalotra smoldering at each other in The Witcher, the drama of the Ozark season 4 or the chaos of The Tinder Swindler, you basically have three ways to show that love online. You can blab about what's so great, you can (hopefully) find a GIF someone's already made and put online or you can share a photo or video of your own screen.
pic.twitter.com/4WDtFXYxONFebruary 6, 2022
Anyone who spends a lot of time trying to take a photo of the TV knows what I'm talking about. When you want to share an emotional moment from your favorite show, you basically need to hope and pray your TV doesn't distort things too much, that your lighting is good and that no lamp reflections in your TV. It's too much effort. Hopefully, whatever visual imperfections inevitably arise add to the mood or the vibes you're trying to suggest.
How a new Netflix share button could work
Personally, I want a Netflix "share" button that lets you post a still photo from what you're watching, or even create a GIF. Subtitles, of course, would be allowed. While the frame-by-frame selection for a GIF would be easier in the Netflix app for phones and tablets, sharing a still photo would be pretty easy on a TV.
Instead, Netflix's current Share button is a far more limited option. First off, it's only in the specific page for a show or movie — a page most people fly by. From there, you can share a link to that show or movie (i.e. the barest of minimums) or a large graphic in an Instagram Stories post (much like how Spotify users often share the "card" of a song they're listening to).
How is Netflix — which loves to own the conversation with talk of "should Squid Game season 2 happen?" and "what the hell is going on with Stranger Things season 4?" — not building such a feature into all of its apps inside of the user interface you see while watching a show.
If that Share button was inside of the show interface (near Speed, Lock, Episodes, Audio & Subtitles and Next Episode), I bet a lot more people would know that show exists. And you'd probably see a ton of people sharing the same poster in Instagram Stories (where I bet Inventing Anna would do very well), and you'd probably be more inclined to look that title up.
And while a share button could open up more chance for people to be hit with unwanted spoilers, Netflix could allow for a #spoiler caption if need be.
More simply, though, a Netflix share button could simply act as a way to tell people the thing you're watching. I often see friends share a movie poster with the #np (now playing) caption on Twitter, and I wonder why Netflix doesn't have something like this. Netflix's most obsessive fans could promote its content even easier this way.
Netflix, let us share the love
While this could be read as if I want everyone to be unpaid workers for Netflix, promoting its latest show, that's not what I mean. I just absolutely love posting about the shows I'm watching online, from the likes of Halt and Catch Fire (I'm sure my Twitter and Instagram friends are tired of my raves by now) to Euphoria as well.
Unfortunately, I am not holding out hope for this super-charged share button coming to Netflix. Every streaming service, including, Netflix is always fighting piracy. And, therefore, Netflix would be opening up a way for people to take images and GIFs out of its shows, possibly creating a pin-hole sized export option that pirates would try and turn into a gate you could drive a whole season of a series out of.
I'm no rights lawyer or engineer, just someone who loves TV, and also someone who thinks about how it could be better. And if Netflix did this? Well, I'm not sure that alone would get me to resubscribe. But it would definitely leave me interested.