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Netflix is testing a linear-style TV channel in France

Steve Dent
·Associate Editor
·2-min read

The beauty of Netflix is that you can watch anything anytime you want, but what if you don’t feel like making a decision? That’s the idea behind Direct, a new linear-style channel that Netflix is testing in France, as seen by Frandroid. When you click on the new Direct link in the menu, you’ll get a pre-programmed feed of popular films, series and documentaries. You can then watch it in real time just like a regular TV channel, without even the ability to rewind.

France is one of Netflix’s most important markets with 9 million subscribers, but people are still attached to regular programming. “In France, watching traditional TV remains hugely popular with people who just want a ‘lean back’ experience where they don’t have to choose shows,” Netflix said in a news release (living in France, I can confirm this).

Netflix also wants introduce folks to new shows they might not otherwise watch. “Maybe you’re not in the mood to decide, or you’re new and finding your way around, or you just want to be surprised by something new and different,” the company wrote.

When you choose Direct, Netflix will show you what’s coming with a 24-hour grid of programmed shows and times. Programming is regenerated automatically over a five day period and is based on what’s popular on the platform as a whole, rather than your personal tastes.

The feature is only available on the web version of Netflix for now, and not on any of the apps on streaming devices, TVs or cable boxes. It started rolling out yesterday and should be available around France early next month (I don’t have it yet). Netflix hasn’t said yet whether Direct will appear in other markets.

Update 11/7/2020 4:10 PM ET: The article has been updated with quotes from Netflix’s English-language press release.