5 years of ‘Skip Intro’ button: Netflix reveals why it was added in the first place

The ‘Skip Intro’ button – which lets users skip the intro or the opening credits for a series – is synonymous with Netflix. In fact, Netflix says the button is pressed about 136 million times each day, saving users across the world a cumulative time of 195 years. But did you know that the button was only introduced five years back? Netflix has now outlined the story of how ‘Skip Intro’ was created.

In a blog post, written by Cameron Johnson, Director of Product Innovation – Studio Product Management at Netflix, when engineers were thinking of the next big idea for the streaming service, the best one was a button to let users skip 10 seconds forwards or backwards while watching a movie or TV show episode.

According to the post, Netflix’s research showed that 15 percent of the time users were manually skipping through episodes within the first five minutes. This reinforced the idea that a lot of people may actually want to skip TV show intros. And there’s a good reason why users want to skip intros. After all, when you’re binging a show and watching multiple back-to-back episodes, intros can quickly also become repetitive considering they’re changed just once in a whole season for most shows. But without the ‘Skip Intro’ button, it was a frustrating experience, since one had to make sure they didn’t skip too far ahead.

However, rather than offering a generic skip button with a preset time like 10 seconds, Netflix wanted something more specific. “Rather than build a general purpose solution that might help a little with several different needs, like a skip forward 10 seconds button, we designed a single purpose solution that did only one thing really well,” Johnson wrote.

‘Jump Past Credits’ was one of the alternative names for the feature during testing. (Image source: Netflix)

“Our goal was to make this option as simple as possible while also giving members flexibility if they want to listen to that catchy theme song again (and again),” he wrote, adding that the idea was that the button should appear on screen only when needed and it should work with a single click. ”

The team behind the feature cycled through multiple names like ‘Jump Past Credits,’ ‘Skip Credits,’ ‘Jump Ahead,’ ‘Skip Intro’ and simply ‘Skip’. The company began testing this with random members in 2017 and the idea saw massive engagement with users, according to Johnson.

Naturally, ‘Skip Intro’ was the best performing name of the lot and eventually emerged as the winner.

Interestingly, the button was introduced for only the web version in 2017 and limited to just 250 series in the US, UK, and Canada (films were excluded). The button only made its way to TV in August 2017 and to mobile apps in May 2018. Well, it is now a feature that most Netflix users will swear by. And in fact, most other streaming services have their own version of the same as well.

Pro type: Did you know that by pressing S you can just simply ‘Skip Intro’ when accessing Netflix on the web? Try it out the next time you are binge-watching a TV series on your laptop.

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