While Netflix and Hulu offer similar services on a very broad level, one has become a major disruptive force for the entertainment industry while the other has become a bit player. Both offer over-the-top digital streaming of television shows and movies and both create original content, but it’s pretty clear that red (Netflix) dominates over green (Hulu).

Don’t ask me for the numbers, but I think its fairly obvious how and why Netflix leads the streaming pack. They have a greater selection of desirable content. A large portion of their streaming base came over from their DVD subscription service. Most importantly… they don’t run any ads!

Seems the latter is about to change. Before you grab your pitchforks and torches, you should realize it’s not as bad as you may think.

Cord Cutters News reports Netflix has started testing advertisements that play both before and after videos. Again, before you plan on leaving a flaming bag of dog poo on Netflix doorstep, only certain subscribers in certain markets are seeing the ads right now, and so far all the ads are trailers for Netflix original programming.

“We are running a test to show some of our original programming,” a Netflix spokesperson confirmed to Motherboard. “As with any Netflix product test, this may never come to all our members.”

Netflix’s self-promos wouldn’t be so different from what HBO and Showtime already do. The premium cable networks air ads for their other shows in between programs.

Netflix has not yet attempted to sell ads to third parties, and insists it doesn’t plan to. “Our policy around ads is unchanged. We have no plans to support third-party ad units,” a Netflix spokesperson told TechCrunch.

So, really, these “ads” are just an amazing service promoting its own stuff in an effort to sustain itself. Netflix is spending big money on original series’ and soon films. They’ve got to promote them.

I, for one, am for it. Netflix has a lot of original programming but unless something is trending out of the stratosphere – like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black – I never know what’s worth checking out. It can be fun throwing caution to the wind and discover a new show (that happened to me recently with Netflix’s The Fall, which is a brilliant methodical crime drama) but I’d be more opt to check out new shows if I saw some clips and trailers to hook me.

Now, sure, there will be the few users who scream “I pay my 8 bucks a month or whatever to NOT be shown ads” but Netflix isn’t gonna lose many over this. Not until there’s a better service. People will grumble, and forget how it used to be in about a month. Like they did with the price increase.

Though… this could represent the beginning of a big deal. I mean I can’t even fathom how much money Netflix could make by adding 3rd party promos and commercials. It’d be billions. So it seems inevitable.

But right now, it’s not so bad. Better than Hulu Plus airing commercials for Hulu Plus during their shows.

Category: Nerd Culture, TV