Netflix’s New 30-Second Mobile Previews Look Like Snapchat and Instagram Stories

Netflix is taking a page from social networks with a new feature that will let users watch TV and movie previews in vertical-video orientation on their mobile phones.

The 30-second mobile previews are presented in a slideshow format with circular thumbnails, very much like the presentation of Snapchat and Instagram Stories. As with the popular “stories” video format, users can tap the screen to play the preview or swipe to advance to the next preview. If you see something you like, you can add it to your watchlist directly from the video screen.

The mobile previews are available starting Thursday in Netflix’s iOS app, and will be “coming soon to Android,” the company said.

The point? It’s another addition to Netflix’s content-discovery toolkit, designed to suck viewers into the Netflix programming catalog. Astutely, Netflix is adopting the concept of swipe-able, vertical videos, which presumably many people already know how to interact with.

“One of the best ways to know if you’ll like a new series or movie is to watch a quick trailer,” Cameron Johnson, Netflix director of product innovation, wrote in a blog post announcing the feature launch. “With the launch of mobile previews, we are bringing a video browse experience to your mobile phone in a fun and mobile-optimized way.”

Separately, Netflix plans to target mobile-video users with new short-form content, a strategy that includes 15-minute stand-up comedy specials.

The streaming giant detailed the new mobile-previews feature last month at the Netflix Lab Days technology showcase event. The updated app will include 30-second previews, which Netflix crops for vertical orientation, for several hundred originals and licensed content (with more to be added over time).

Starting in late 2016, Netflix introduced video previews on connected-TV devices. According to Netflix’s Johnson, the company has compiled years of data clearly showing that “video previews help our members browse less and discover new content more quickly.”

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