Netflix experiments with promoting its shows on the login screen

Netflix is testing a new way to promote its original shows – right on the login screen. A company spokesperson confirmed the streaming service is currently experimenting with a different login screen experience which replaces the black background behind users’ names and profile thumbnails with full-screen photos promoting a Netflix Original series or special, like “BoJack Horseman,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Dark,” “My Next Guest…”, “13 Reasons Why,” and several others.

We first noticed the change on a TV connected to a Roku media player and on a Fire TV, but Netflix says the test is running “for TV,” which means those on other TV platforms may see the promoted shows as well. (Our Roku TV, however, had the same black background on the login screen, we should note.)

The promoted shows aren’t necessarily those Netflix thinks you’d like – it’s just a rotating selection of popular originals.

Every time you return to the Netflix login screen, it will have refreshed the photo that’s displayed. After cycling in and out of the Netflix app several times on our TV, we found the image selection to be fairly random – sometimes the promoted show would repeat a couple of times before a new show hopped in to take its place.

Netflix will likely decide whether or not to move forward with the change to the login screen based on how well this new promotional effort works to actually increases viewership of its originals.

While it makes sense to better utilize this space, I’m not sold on having ads for adult-oriented shows appearing on the same login screen that’s used by a child. The ads themselves (so far) have not been inappropriate, but it doesn’t seem like a good fit for multi-person households and families. For example, I now have to explain to a school-ager why they can’t watch that funny-looking cartoon, “BoJack Horseman.” Meanwhile, when I was logging in to watch more grown-up fare, I saw an ad for the new “Trolls” kids’ show. Uh, okay. 

That said, this is still a much less intrusive way to advertise Netflix shows, compared with putting promos at the beginning of a show, like HBO does.

Netflix continually experiments with different ways to showcase its original programming, some of which eventually roll out to the wider user base – like the screensavers that launched last year, or the newer Stories-inspired mobile previews which arrived this spring.

The company is expected to spend up to $13 billion on original programing this year, so it makes sense that it wants to highlight top shows to users in the hopes of getting them hooked on content that they can’t get elsewhere. Retaining users is especially important given all the changes to the increasingly competitive streaming media space as of late, including the rise of live TV services, the AT&T-Time Warner merger, and Disney’s forthcoming Netflix competitor. Netflix is smart to double-down on its best asset: Originals.

The new test of promos on the login screen is only showing to a small percentage of users, Netflix says. That means you may not see them yourself, even if logging in to Netflix on a TV.

Image credits: Me. Photos are from my own Netflix account. My daughter likes to rename her account silly things, in case you’re wondering. Side note: I miss having real profile images instead of these stupid drawings. Why can’t we pick from characters on Netflix shows? That would be a fun way to promote the original series. After all, BuzzFeed has long since proven that people do like relating themselves to fictional characters, thanks to those “which character are you?” quizzes.

Kodak-branded KashMiner Bitcoin mining rig for rent wasn’t — and won’t be

Write off another piece of crypto craziness: A Kodak-branded Bitcoin-mining rig that was on show at CES in January, where it generated much headshaking and skepticism that it could ever deliver the claimed returns, has evaporated into the ideas ether from whence it came.

The BBC reports that the plan to rent access to Kodak-branded KashMiner devices for the chance to earn Bitcoin returns has collapsed.

Spotlite USA, the company that had shown off the rig at CES, was also never officially licensed to use Kodak’s brand for the mining rig, according to the report (although the company does seemingly license Kodak’s brand for use on LED lighting products which nonetheless have nothing at all to do with Bitcoin mining so…).

Nor had it installed multiple KashMiner devices at Kodak’s offices, as it had claimed.

Speaking to the BBC, Spotlite CEO Halston Mikail said the US Securities and Exchange Commission prevented the scheme from going ahead.

Instead of renting Bitcoin mining capacity to consumers the company now plans to run a mining operation privately, with equipment installed in Iceland — apparently without pausing to examine the logic of joining the existing pool of professional Bitcoin miners all chasing diminishing returns.

Iceland has been a popular spot for setting up crypto mining ops for a while, owning to low average annual temperatures which help keep cooling costs down, plus the availability of (relatively) cheap electricity, including generated from clean geothermal energy, which can offset concerns about the environmental impact of crypto mining. Which is presumably why Spotlite has settled on Iceland for the next stage of its crypto adventure.

Meanwhile, Eastman Kodak, the 130-year-old camera company whose brand was not, as it turns out, licensed by Spotlite USA for Bitocin mining, did reveal a bona fide brand licensing plans to get involved with cryptocurrencies and blockchain (also) in January — announcing an imminent ICO for a photo-centric cryptocurrency (called KodakCoin), via a brand licensee (called Wenn Digital), with the mooted blockchain platform set to focus on image rights management.

So at least there’s a less than entirely tenuous connection in that crypto instance.

The ICO news instantly spiked Kodak’s stock price 44 per cent in January’s oh-so-bubbly crypto market. Albeit, weeks later the stock had deflated after delays to the ICO on account of regulatory uncertainty.

Months later Wenn Digital went on to launch a SAFT offering (aka Simple Agreements for Future Tokens), in May, which it’s still promoting on its KodakOne website — with the aim of raising $50M to build the touted image rights management blockchain platform.

It remains to be seen whether this officially Kodak-branded offering will be able to turn a crypto idea into a genuinely useful product either.