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Netflix Reality

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The Brief

Re-imagining the home, social, and essential retail experience with COVID-19.  How will our lives evolve and how will brands work to create value 3, 6, 9 months out?  How might new and emergent technologies like digital screens, conversational interfaces, AR, VR and MR shape our new normal in the plausible future?  

Concept & Solution

Netflix Reality: a way for existing friends to enjoy the Netflix experience together, allow users who share similar movie tastes to create friendships, and for everyone to enjoy the social aspects of a traditional movie theater environment right from home. Virtual reality technology creates a more realistic and engaging environment that removes the geographical barrier to social interactions while also leveraging Netflix's core brand values.

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Google Design CHallenge

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Problem (Design Challenge Prompt)

Your school wants to improve the upkeep of campus facilities by creating a new system for reporting any facilities that may need maintenance or repair. Design an experience that allows students to report building or equipment issues on campus. Consider the process of those filing the report and of those receiving and taking action on the issues.

Concept & Solution

RamFix is a mobile platform that utilizes the power of a university community to empower students to help each other address low priority or routine maintenance requests. RamFix is designed to help alleviate the backlog of requests for the facilities management department by incentivizing students to become more self-sufficient inhabitants of their environment.

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Netflix Reality

Using Virtual Reality to Evolve Streaming Into A Social Activity

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that consumer's social behaviors are heavily impacted when they are unable to congregate in the real world. Existing digital solutions for social interactions do not adequately satisfy user's social needs. However emerging technologies such as virtual reality can seek to address this problem by recreating realistic and engaging digital environments. We apply this opportunity to the Netflix brand to turn video streaming into a more relational experience by replicating the social experience of a traditional movie theater outing, right from home.

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The Outcome
The Process
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Deliverable

introducing netflix reality.

welcome to the future of streaming.

Ever wish you could watch a movie in the same theater with a friend who's on the other side of the country? Well now you can with Netflix Reality. Virtual streaming let's you hang out, chat, and watch movies and shows together as if they are right by your side. Here's how it works:

Step one

Find a movie you want to watch.

Browse through the vast Netflix library on your computer or mobile device and choose your movie or show.

01

Step two

Select the showtime and confirm details.

02

Select a showtime of the content you want to watch and invite friends.

Step three

Put on your VR Headset and enter the netflix theater.

Hang out with your friends in the virtual space while waiting for the showing to begin.

03

Step four

Enjoy the show with friends from anywhere.

Have an immersive and social theater-going experience with friends, right from the comforts of home.

04

Define

Defining the problem.

Introduction

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered consumer behavior and changed market conditions. Specifically, it has opened new doors in how people operate socially. In lieu of being able to congregate in person, many people have turned to a digital avenues to satisfy their social needs.

However transitioning all social interactions to a digital medium is not as seamless as it may appear to be. While we live in a rapidly evolving technological age with many digital platforms, there are still many challenges facing consumers when managing a social life.

The Observation:

A global pandemic has fundamentally shifted how we approach social endeavors and social distancing has led to consumers searching for new ways digitally to maintain social interactions and relationships.

Consumer Challenges

01

Digital social interactions don't feel real.

There is still a major stigma with building digital/online relationships in that the social interactions don’t really seem real. In our user interviews, we observed that many respondents did not consider online friends as real friends because they’ve never met in real life. As for maintaining existing relationships through a digital means, many respondents felt that the experience was not as fulfilling.

02

Difficulty in building new organic relationships virtually.

We also identified that people believed building new relationships through online means was hard to do organically because it often involved a lot of small talk initially and always felt forced. This was due in part to the fact that these conversations weren't being initiated naturally over the course of a shared activity or experience, but rather through a messaging app.

03

In-person hangouts can be difficult to manage.

On the flip side, a key challenge that our respondents identified with non-digital social interactions was that they can be difficult to manage. Finding a time and place that satisfied everyone's schedules and needs could be difficult. There is a convenience factor In allowing people to experience highly engaging social interactions from the comfort of their own home.

Problem Definition

What people often don’t realize is that social distancing has always existed and will continue to exist in a post-covid world. Barriers to physical proximity have always been there whether it be voluntary or involuntary. How often have you wished you could hang out with a best friend who moved away? Or managed a long distance relationship with a partner hundreds of miles away?

Ultimately, the problem is finding ways to allow people to have engaging and authentic digital social experiences regardless of distance, not only now, but in a post-covid time as well. That is the problem we are seeking to solve.

The Problem:

How can consumers have engaging social experiences with each other regardless of the distance that separates them?

Discovery

Generating Insights and Discovering opportunities.

TV viewing is social, with 93% of people engaging in some co-viewing activity on the big screen.

TV viewing is social, with 93% of people engaging in some form of co-viewing activity on the big screen.

Source: IAB - The OTT Co-Viewing Experience 2017

Video Streaming is a Highly Social Activity.

The pandemic resulted in the rapid rise of a third-party browser extension known as Netflix Party. Many consumers quickly gravitated towards it as a fun way to be able to "socially stream" their favorite shows and movies. This behavior of "co-viewing" (watching video content with others) has always existed in some form or another. A study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in 2017 found that over 50% of monthly viewers on streaming services watched content with other people.

Further research by MRI suggested that number will only increase with Amy Hunt, VP of TVideo Media Sales at MRI saying, “The social nature of TV viewing continues to drive people to this enjoyable shared experience...”. Therefore there exists an opportunity to build upon this behavior of co-viewing by building better social streaming experiences with new and emerging technologies. Enter Netflix.

Market Opportunity:

Further enhance the social aspect of video streaming by leveraging new technologies to create an engaging shared digital experience.

Brand Opportunity: Why Netflix?

Netflix is in prime position to be at the forefront of this opportunity. From a business value perspective, tapping into the cowatching market is highly lucrative. Since co-watching inherently reaches more users, Netflix is able to leverage this increased viewership by generating additional ad revenue. In addition, with 5G introduction, hosting content servers over the cloud not only becomes more efficient, but also significantly lowers operating and development costs. From a brand perspective, Netflix has many core value propositions it can leverage to succeed as well. These include:

Large User Base

170m Users in 190 Countries.

Vast Content Library

47,000 TV Shows & 4000+ Movies.

Market Domination

26%

Leader in global streaming traffic.

Source: Market.us

Netflix Evolution

Finally, Netflix has established itself as an innovative brand. Since its introduction nearly 25 years ago, it has moved quickly to utilize emerging technologies to remain the market leader.

Netflix's vision statement is “becoming the best global entertainment distribution service”. To do this the company must encompass all aspects of the user journey and continues to innovate the video streaming segment. In 2007, Netflix changed the way we approach viewing media content. Can it continue to evolve streaming into a more interactive social activity in the future?

New Brand Product

Cornering the co-viewing market and future proofing the streaming product experience can enable Netflix to remain the segment leader.

By designing a more dynamic and social experience that parallels real life social experiences where real and meaningful relationships can be created, Netflix can re-define how we we approach digital social interactions and continue to establish itself as an innovative company.

Business Objective:

Corner the co-viewing market and future-proof the product experience.

Understanding Design Population and Establishing Opportunity

Mental Model

We took some of the information from the interviews and generated a mental model to help us better understand the user's mental states as related to planning, selecting, and watching content together. From this we were able to gather some insights, mainly that a co-watching experience has value for specific genres of content and when watched in a comfortable and relaxed setting with close friends.

Additionally, we noted that movie theaters were a general source of excitement for social gatherings due to their ability to let viewers experience live reactions together. This led us to establish an exciting design opportunity.

A Private Netflix Theater

Our users noted that one of most missed activities during the pandemic was the decline in going to the movies. One important aspect of the appeal of the movie theater experience has always been the social experience. Recreating that experience from the comforts and convenience of home represents a tremendous design opportunity.

Design Opportunity:

By targeting the design to replicate a traditional movie theater experience, we can integrate a naturally social activity directly into the existing Netflix platform.

Design

UTILIZING Emerging tech in a social streaming coNCEPT.

The Concept:

A private digital theater that utilizes virtual reality to create an immersive social viewing experience where users can enjoy the Netflix product experience together.

Can Virtual Reality be the Solution?

Third party applications such as Netflix watch party and co-watching research have already established that there is opportunity for Netflix to implement new features that allow users to share in the streaming experience. Virtual reality has always sought to bridge the gap between digital realms and real life. In recent years, virtual reality technology has matured to become a very viable alternative in creating truly immersive and engaging environments akin to real life experiences. We wanted to explore if a social feature where users watch Netflix together in a virtual environment could serve as a legitimate solution to addressing the core consumer needs for engaging social interactions across a digital space.

Concept Validation

Stakeholder Interviews

40

People Interviewed

21-32

Age Range

82%

Frequent Netflix Users

Concerns

Physical discomfort or motion sickness associated with VR headset.

Potential social interaction with strangers.

Unsure how well virtual environment could replicate real world.

Difficulty in setting up and accessing the feature.

Interests

Could be fun watching comedy or reality tv in large groups.

Would use more as a social activity of catching up with a friend.

Scheduled private movie night with a group of friends in different locations would be easy to do.

Replicating an environment where people around you react to live situations like a movie theater is cool.

Social, by Design.

An important point we wanted to emphasize was that this social feature should integrate seamlessly into the existing Netflix product. In the past Netflix had previously implemented a "Friends" feature that felt clunky, out of place and offered no value add to the consumer. To this point, the implementation of our feature shouldn’t be a social for the sake of social, but instead designed to complement and enhance the core Netflix streaming service and provide a more holistic consumer experience.

Design Opportunity: A Netflix Private Theater

Our users noted that one of most missed activities during the pandemic was the decline in going to the movies. One important aspect of the appeal of the movie theater experience has always been the social experience. Virtual reality technology allows the opportunity to recreate that experience from the comforts and convenience of home. By targeting the design to replicate that of a traditional movie experience, we could naturally integrate a traditionally social activity straight into the existing Netflix platform.

Social By Design

An additional important point we wanted to emphasize was that this social feature should integrate seamlessly into the existing Netflix product. In the past Netflix had previously implemented a "Friends" feature that felt clunky, out of place and offered no value add to the consumer. To this point, the implementation of our feature shouldn’t be a social for the sake of social, but instead designed to complement and enhance the core Netflix streaming service and provide a more holistic consumer experience.

Design Opportunity: A Netflix Private Theater

Netflix is in prime position to be at the forefront of this opportunity. From a business value perspective, tapping into the cowatching market is highly lucrative. Since co-watching inherently reaches more users, Netflix is able to leverage this increased viewership by generating additional ad revenue. In addition, with 5G introduction, hosting content servers over the cloud not only becomes more efficient, but also significantly lowers operating and development costs. From a brand perspective, Netflix has many core value propositions it can leverage to succeed as well. These include:

Product Requirements

We identified some key product requirements that needed to be considered to meet our design goal of transforming the Netflix streaming experience from a transactional to a relational activity.

Package the social aspects of going to a movie theater and  replicate that in a private virtual space.

Seamlessly integrate the theater feature into the existing Netflix platform and product experience.

Design the experience to be as comfortable and convenient as possible right from a user's home.

UI/UX Flow and Seamless Platform Integration

Netflix Desktop Home Page UI Redesign & Social Integration

Sidebar with social feed built into sub navigation alongside search and account functions for seamless integration.

Quickview option on content selection with call to action directing users to Netflix theater. Learn more button to explain new feature.

Netflix Theater UI

Content quickview with upcoming showtimes and next showing selected by default. Detailed view gives content information, further showtime selection, and further recommended content.

Netflix Desktop Client to VR Handoff UI

Netflix Theater VR UI

Main UI interface in Netflix Theater that allows quick access to user watchlist and featured showings. Friends that have been invited to the group in the Desktop client are populated in the right side bar with communication options added.

Explorations

Netflix Landing Page Iteration

Trashed Because:

In user testing, users naturally looked for home logo on the top left side of the screen and the positioning of the chat caused some confusion. Final iteration moved social bar and icons to the right side and the Netflix logo to the top left.

Theater Content Detailed View Iteration

Trashed Because:

Users felt the background blur was too heavy and made the content difficult to identify. Final iteration toned down background blur to 30%.

Profile Page Re-design

Trashed Because:

In user testing, users felt the background did not add significant value and made it difficult to see profile pictures.

Find a Friend Feature

Trashed Because:

Users were uncomfortable with the concept of watching movies with strangers 1 on 1. "There's a fear of awkwardness in 1 on 1 interactions that might ruin the movie/tv show".

Considerations & Reflection

Product Future

Netflix Theater is just one part of the broader vision for Netflix Reality. We chose to brand this product Netflix Reality because we believe that as Netflix develops its VR capabilities, there exists real opportunity for other VR products to be added alongside Netflix Theaters. One such product is Netflix hangouts, the ability to have on-demand drop-in rooms or clubs where friends can gather to watch live events or Netflix content. Netflix Reality opens new doors for the future of streaming in more ways than we can even imagine.

Netflix Reality can become the foundation for all virtual reality streaming products in the future.

Reflection

Producing a compelling product solution from such a broad brief was especially challenging. However, this project gave me a great opportunity to execute a design process from start to finish and learn how to clearly identify a problem, understand user behaviors and needs, and design a product solution to match. Although many of my assumptions regarding social behaviors were challenged, I was able to adapt the designs to fit my user's desires. This project as a whole gave me a great insight into the difficulties but also the satisfaction of applying an innovative product solution to an existing brand product.