Looking Back on the Origin of Skip Intro Five Years Later


Nowadays, it's hard to imagine streaming your favorite series without using the 'Skip Intro' button. On Netflix in a typical day, the Skip Intro button is pressed 136 million times, saving members an astonishing 195 years in cumulative time!

But six years ago, it was just a glimmer of an idea. At Netflix, we’re relentlessly focused on how we can improve, so some designers and I were discussing how to help members get the most out of their Netflix experience. Sometimes you want to find a particular moment you love — that awesome action scene or the big reveal of that can’t-believe-it twist — or rewatch a favorite joke.

An idea was floated to add skip forward and skip backward buttons in 10-second increments. The reason to offer a skip back 10 seconds was obvious: maybe you got distracted and missed a particular moment.

But why skip forward 10 seconds?

Well, you might want to skip the opening credits. But no one could come up with any other compelling reasons.

At the same time, I was watching Game of Thrones, which has a famously long (and beautiful) opening credits sequence. I found the show so compelling that I wanted to skip the credits and jump right into the story, and I found it frustrating to try to manually jump forward to just the right place. Sometimes I would jump too far, and sometimes I would jump too short. I wondered whether other people felt the same.

We did research and found that in about 15% of the time members were manually advancing the series within the first five minutes. This gave us confidence that a lot of people wanted to skip the intro.

Rather than build a general purpose solution that might help a little with several different needs, like a skip forward 10 seconds button, we designed a single purpose solution that did only one thing really well.

Our goal was to make this option as simple as possible while also giving members flexibility if they want to listen to that catchy theme song again (and again). The button should appear on screen only when needed and it should work with a single click. (One little known hack is that pressing the ‘s’ key on your keyboard when the Skip Intro button is present will skip you past the intro without having to move your mouse.)

To find a name for the button, we brainstormed a few options including Jump Past Credits, Skip Credits, Jump Ahead, Skip Intro and simply Skip and then started to test the feature with a random set of members.

An early conceptual design of the Skip intro button in 2017

To move quickly, we added this button to only 250 series, excluding films, in the US, UK, and Canada, and launched the feature initially on web.

Our simple idea had huge engagement from members (with Skip Intro the best performing name) and lots of love on social media. As one engineer put it, “I’m not sure that if you put a button that said ‘free cupcake’ that it would get more clicks than Skip Intro.”

We quickly added Skip Intro to TV in August 2017 and mobile in May of the following year. The rest is history.

Over the past five years, it’s been gratifying to see Skip Intro become a beloved feature adopted by many other streaming services, bringing a little moment of delight to audiences around the world.