The fine people at Netflix have put out a few statements today, expressing the notion that they would really appreciate it if their many customers—who they know are calm, wonderful, rational people, filled to the brim with forgiveness and grace—would kindly chill the fuck out about reports that the streaming service is running ads before its shows.
Said reports—initially brought to light by Cord Cutter News—showed that users were seeing ads for other Netflix original programming before chosen videos would run. The ads—initially only seen by those viewing the service through their Xbox One systems, but later also by Roku and Tivo users—varied in length, and while some were skippable with a button press, others weren’t.
Understandably, ad-averse subscribers wasted no time in losing their collective minds at the company, with the service’s Facebook page quickly filling with comments by users threatening to cut their service if they see so much as a glimmer of an ad. But Netflix CEO Reed Hastings moved quickly to try to fight fire with fire, writing his own Facebook post to quell dissent, saying, “No advertising coming onto Netflix. Period. Just adding relevant cool trailers for other Netflix content you are likely to love.” Then he posted a stock image of a dollar sign, because sometimes it pays to take a minute and steer hard into one’s “eccentric billionaire” image.
Other spokespeople for the company reiterated Hastings’ statement, calling the ads a test of new features and suggesting that people “calm down.” They also made it clear that any forthcoming ads would only be for Netflix’s own programming, and that the service would never offer third-party advertisers access to its lucrative consumer base.
That would put Netflix in line with other subscriptions services—namely, HBO, which has run promotions in between its films and TV shows for years, and whose HBO Go service often features short trailers before playing videos. But it remains to be seen whether the distinction between “ad” and “trailer” will mean much to a twitchy-eyed streamer, pitchfork at the ready, when a unskippable 30-second spot for House Of Cards or the upcoming third season of Orange Is The New Black comes between them and episode four of a six-hour Cutthroat Kitchen binge.