Netflix wants to get tykes clicking into their favorite TV shows and movies faster: The streamer is launching a redesigned kids profile on connected TVs to prominently feature characters from their most-watched titles right on home screen.
It’s an effort by Netflix to engage kids more immediately, by using a visual language they grasp more easily than traditional poster images. In an update rolling out globally starting Tuesday, Netflix Kids profiles on TVs will now include a “favorites” row on the homepage with five characters perched above the related series or film.
“We wanted to represent a title in the way that kids most recognize it — through the characters,” said Michelle Parsons, product manager for kids and family at Netflix. “This is going to be like a kid walking into their own room, where they know where every Lego piece is.”
Last year, Netflix conducted a test of the character-based favorites row and found that kids loved it, according to Parsons. She declined to say how much the design change may have boosted the time children spent watching Netflix.
The five characters in the row will be from the TV shows or movies that a kid has watched most frequently. For example, if one of those is “Waffles + Mochi” — the new nutrition-focused Netflix kids original series featuring former First Lady Michelle Obama — it’s represented by Waffles, the half-Yeti/half-waffle creature that stars in the show.
The favorites row will feature characters from all titles available on Netflix, spanning both licensed and original content. For brand-new profiles, the Netflix Kids interface will simply show a main billboard image (as was the case with the previous design) until there’s enough watch history to populate the favorites row.
With the update, none of the parental controls and settings initially applied to a Netflix Kids profile will change. Note that parents can’t disable or modify the new five-character favorites row.
When a child selects a tile in the favorites row, the trailer for the title plays behind the character by default. However, parents are able to turn off the preview-autoplay feature — a welcome option Netflix introduced a little over a year ago.
For now, the new favorites row appears in kids profiles only in Netflix’s connected TV apps. The company will test the feature across other devices in the coming months, Parsons said.
Other streaming services also use character-driven designs for kids profiles. HBO Max, for example, displays icons of popular characters in children’s accounts, including those from Sesame Street, for access to related content. Disney Plus groups content for kids in character-based collections such as “Mickey Mouse & Friends” and “Princesses.”
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