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Netflix Hack Day’s ‘Nostalgiflix’ Travels Back to TV’s Past

LOS GATOS, Calif.—Nostalgia sells—see the billion dollars earned worldwide by the 2019 edition of “Lion King” as exhibit A; but TV nostalgia is also extremely popular among consumers. “Friends,” “The Office,” “The West Wing” and other shows long off-air have found new life on streaming platforms. Now, some at Netflix are playing around with the idea of doubling down on this with what is being dubbed “Nostalgiflix.”

Nostalgiflix is a creation of Netflix’s Hack Day, an bi-annual event “to build and show off a feature, tool or quirky app” that allows the streaming platform to experiment with new ideas and technologies. “We know even the silliest idea can spur something more,” Netflix said on its blog.

This year, one of those ideas is Nostalgiflix. Designed as a chrome extension, Nostalgiflix transforms the Netflix web browser into what the creators call “an interactive TV time machine.” Covering the 80s, 90s and 00s, consumers can access content from any year in that time frame by using a UI slider. Video filters can also be adjusted in real-time to “creatively downgrade” the viewing experience to what it may have looked like when it originally aired on TV sets of old.

“We think this feature could encourage our users to watch more of our older content while having fun relieving those moments of cinematic history,” said Nostalgiflix’s creators.

Nostalgiflix wasn’t the only Hack Day proposal, there also was automatic audio descriptions. With audio descriptive tracks providing descriptive narration in addition to dialog for visually impaired consumers, the developers used recent research to automatically generate descriptions, then used internal authoring tools to refine the output. Synthetic audio and automated mixing techniques were used to deliver a final audio description track.

Another Hack Day pitch was offering a real-time visualization of global contact centers.

Whether or not any of these technologies is ever officially offered is unknown at this point.

Find out more about the latest Hack Day on Netflix’s blog.