5 Lessons from Netflix on Creating Addicting Elearning Content

When was your last Netflix binge? I’ll confess that I submitted myself to solitary confinement this past month catching up on 3 seasons of Orange is the New Black. To be completely honest, when I discovered Narcos I didn’t leave my apartment more than once for an entire weekend – I binged on the entire season in 3 days. Making me one of the thousands of addicts around the world who are hooked on the ‘flix.


Netflix has drastically changed how we engage with content. Their model for creating all-consuming streaming media has paved a new path for on-demand digital providers everywhere. By turning the cable TV model on its head, they’ve realized some pretty incredible results.


What is really interesting, is how we can use Netflix principles in creating learning content. Netflix can teach learning professionals a number of important lessons on how to capture their learner’s attention.

5 Lessons from Netflix on Creating Addicting Elearning Content:


1. On-demand content.

Netflix allows viewers to watch at their own leisure. Netflix hosts a number of on-demand series and doesn’t make you wait a week for the next episode to come out. The removal of advertisements means that viewers can power through an entire season of television in one sitting. This feeds millennials desire for instant gratification and autonomy.

Lesson for Learning Professionals: Don’t tell your learners when and where to learn. Give them autonomy and let them learn at the pace that is best for them.


2. The Art of Cliff-Hangers.

Think about it, when you’re watching a show and something really juicy occurs, and then the episode ends – you want to know what happens next, right? You watch the next episode, and the next one, and you keep watching and watching because you can’t stop. Each end of episode hook is even more enthralling than the last.

Lesson for Learning Professionals: Leave your learners wanting more! Tease them with what comes next, if your elearning is engaging they will want to interact further.


3. Make it Real.

There are many reasons to why people binge watch. Some watch Netflix as a means of unwinding from their day, others as a form of “escape” from issues on their mind. Sometimes you just get so caught up in Netflix episodes, you almost feel like you’re in the show yourself. Everyone loves to feel like the content they are watching is relatable and this draws viewers in further.

Lesson for Learning Professionals: Make your learning real, with real-life scenarios, that allow learners to absorb and reflect on the material with their own experiences.


4. Check! Accomplishments are Key.

Another episode down? Winning! Watching a whole TV episode, or series can often feel like an accomplishment. Ever been at a social event or gathering and compared notes about which season of Breaking Bad you were in? Yup, me too. Not that surprisingly, Netflix is designed as a checklist for a reason. When we check an episode (or season!) off our list and move to the next, it triggers the reward center of our brains, releasing the neurochemicals responsible for satiety and pleasure (serotonin and dopamine). These chemicals motivate us to keep watching, creating a feedback loop that is never ending. The science behind Netflix addictions.

Lesson for Learning Professionals: Gamify your learning. Create a similar checklist structure that allows learners to feel a sense of accomplishment and reward for completing learning tasks.


5. Create Content in Chunks.

Did you know Netflix intentionally builds their episodes in 40 minutes to mess with our time management? According to the ‘chunking principle’, the human brain best receives, processes, and remembers information in small segments. We often intuitively divide our time into concrete portions of 30 minutes or 60 minutes. Therefore, Netflix’s 40-minute episodes don’t exactly fit into our designated time chunks. When we allot ourselves one hour to watch Netflix before you have to get back to your responsibilities (or go to sleep), that means you have about enough time to watch one and a half episodes of a forty minute show. Seriously? Nobody watches half of a show on Netflix. The next thing you know, you are two episodes in and already way over your time limit (or way past your bedtime!).. might as well watch another episode, right?

Lesson for Learning Professionals: Using the same chunking principle, Learners retain information best in small segments. By dividing important learning concepts into easy to digest bite-sized pieces you will help maximize learning and retention. You might not get the same Netflix addiction effect here, but you will obtain superior learning results.


At Learnkit, it is our aim to create beautiful, engaging and impactful learning through our custom elearning development. We use a number of tried and tested teaching methodologies to make our learning effective and fun! A well-designed elearning solution might not leave your employees binging for hours, but it should utilize similar principles that capitalize on what we know about the brain and human attention spans.


Talk to us to learn more about how we can build an interactive, engaging and impactful elearning solution for your business.

Mitchelle Boyle

Digital Marketing Specialist at Learnkit
Learnkit works with industry leading businesses and top academic institutions to create innovative custom elearning that delivers measurable, real world results
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