They used to be called “commercials”

Netflix has been testing out the playback of video promos that play in between episodes of a show you’re watching. No joke. Shannon Liao at The Verge:

Users who have spotted the test feature have taken to (since deleted) Reddit and Twitter to voice their annoyance at having their show-binging interrupted by an ad for other shows. A bug appeared for some users where they were unable to skip the promo and had to watch a certain amount — like with ads on YouTube — before they were able to get to the next episode of their show. Netflix told The Verge that the video promos are supposed to be skippable and that the feature is not permanent. “We are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”

It’s not clear if this will ever get out of the testing phase, or what other shows Netflix would choose to promote in the middle of your couch-bound binge session. In theory they could sell that eyeball time the same way a traditional network sells advertising.

When cable television was new, the dream was that you’d pay a monthly fee in exchange for commercial free channels. This New York Times piece from 1981 is a perfect time capsule of that era:

Although cable television was never conceived of as television without commercial interruption, there has been a widespread impression – among the public, at least -that cable would be supported largely by viewers’ monthly subscription fees. These days, however, as cables are laid across the country and new programs constantly pop up to fill the gaping maw, cable experts are talking as glibly about the potential advertising revenues as they are about opportunities for programming.