Netflix is testing out a new feature that would allow children to earn so-called “patches” by watching certain episodes of TV shows. The feature was first reported on Twitter, but Netflix sent a statement to Variety confirming that the feature was real.
“We are testing a new feature on select kids titles that introduces collectible items for a more interactive experience, adding an element of fun and providing kids something to talk about and share around the titles they love,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety. “We learn by testing and this feature may or may not become part of the Netflix experience.”
The shows which feature patches are highlighted by red lock icons for those users who are part of the test group. However, the patches themselves don’t appear to do anything aside from providing users a small reward for watching certain shows. The response from parents on Twitter has been mixed, with some saying the patches are a way to make watching TV more fun while others worry that it could help turn kids into binge watchers.
.@netflix has patches /badges now? What’s the deal with this?? As if getting my son to stop watching Netflix wasn’t hard enough. Now I have to deal with him wanting to binge endless hours of shows just to earn a silly patch? Not good. My opinion I know, but still I don’t like it!
— Ed Munoz (@LivingDadly) February 24, 2018
Netflix patches: making me feel like a binge watching girl scout
— Gaby Baker (@GabyNicole1998) March 1, 2018
You now get badges for watching certain Netflix kids shows and yeah, it’s totally working considering we’ve watched all 6 episodes of Trolls at least 3 times today.
Whether or not this feature will become a main part of the Netflix experience remains to be seen. The company is often testing out new features to see how how audiences respond. The fate of the new patch system will likely depend on a couple of factors, the first being whether or not it succeeds in getting children and families to spend more time on the platform. The second major factor will likely be parental response. If a lot of parents end up complaining about the system, then Netflix may simply scrap it regardless of how well it does in the area of user retention.