Teens to Netflix: We Already Like You, Stop Trying So Hard

Netflix recently picked up a chunk of programming aimed to appeal to their younger viewers.

Aug 26 2015, 3:00pm

Screengrab from the trailer for Bad Night, YouTube.

There's been some buzz this week about Netflix trying to woo more ~teens~ with shows and movies specifically targeted to their demographic. It's true Netflix added some younger-minded fare to its menu lately, including Smosh: The Movie, starring two YouTube celebs you're probably too old to know about, and Bad Night, starring two other YouTube celebs you're probably too old to know about:

But the new offerings don't seem like they're necessarily directed to teens—those YouTube stars, for example, tend to have fan bases that skew younger, in the pre-teen/middle school demo—and a Netflix spokesperson told me it's not that the company is trying to woo teens, but that it's always trying to balance its roster.

"There are grandparents watching Netflix, there are tweens watching Netflix, and we just want to make sure there's a library of content that's going to resonate with all of them," Erin Dwyer, a spokesperson for Netflix, said. "What's unique about the teen audience right now is they've grown up in such a different time with YouTube and streaming at the drop of a hat, so we're looking at how entertainment can satiate their appetite."

Netflix has long been tightlipped about its user demographics and has made no exceptions this week, but previous surveys have found teens and tweens watch less television overall, and tend to prefer short clips on YouTube, Vine, or streaming services to traditional TV. It can make them a tricky group to target given all of the other outlets competing for their attention, but Dwyer said Netflix doesn't necessarily view these other platforms as competition.

"We see ourselves as a complement to everything, so we just want to have entertainment that's going to drive members to go there for it," Dwyer said.

We did a very informal survey of some of the #teens in our lives to see what they thought of the new changes and to gauge their feelings about Netflix overall.

Abbey, 15, was actually watching Netflix when I messaged her. She said the new additions (like teen drama Degrassi: Next Class, which was also recently picked up by Netflix) didn't really appeal to her.

"I've never seen any of them and I didn't hear good things about Degrassi so, no, I don't think I would watch them," she said. "When I get bored I sometimes watch videos on Vine but never YouTube. I watch TV on cable more than Netflix."

16-year-old Taylor said she and some of her friends are looking forward to watching Fuller House, the sequel to the 90s family sitcom that Netflix acquired. But the YouTube fare didn't appeal to her, even though she's a YouTube fan.

"[Smosh] is dumb," she said. "One of my friends said they're good when they do gaming but I don't watch it even though I love YouTube."

Meanwhile Emily, 17, said all of her friends were "in love with Netflix," and many of them binge-watched hospital drama Grey's Anatomy this summer. In inexplicable teen fashion, she then shared an album of photos of selfies taken exclusively while watching Grey's on Netflix. She said she'd be willing to give the new content a spin.

"We think it's pretty decent," Emily said via text message. "But they took off The Parent Trap and we were pretty upset." This last comment was followed by a crying/laughing emoji.