Why Your Remote Has A Netflix Button (And What You Can Do About It)

All of this simply boils down to brand visibility and money. The companies who make TVs and other electronics can charge these services a small fortune in order for their names to be featured on these remote controls. It doesn’t matter much whether consumers use the button. It’s that Netflix and these other streaming services found a way to advertise their brand inside the homes of consumers every day without lifting a finger.

An article from Bloomberg Businessweek[4] stated that “Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, and YouTube have paid Roku to build brand-specific buttons on its remote controls; these lead users straight to those services. At $1 per customer for each button, the cost can quickly add up to millions of dollars in monthly fees.”

With the trade-off of convenience for long-term brand visibility, this marketing scheme is brilliant. The button is a subtle reminder to those who don’t have one of these services that they should probably sign up for them, and those who already do should log in and use them.

Can You Reprogram the Buttons?

Man holds a remote control and pushes a Netflix button on it
r.classen/Shutterstock.com[5]

While it’s a highly sought-after option, you can’t reprogram the Netflix button (or others) in most cases. They were specifically designed by TV manufacturers and have hard-encoded IR or RF codes built into the remote’s firmware. Unless the manufacturer decides to release an update that allows users to control what the button does, there won’t be a way around it.

However, someone did figure out a way to remap the Netflix button[6] on the NVIDIA Shield TV[7] and the Shield TV Pro[8] remote in late 2019. It’s not a native option within the device’s software, but an app called Button Mapper[9] (Android only) lets you remap the button. So if you have the Shield TV, congratulations, you’re in luck.

But everyone else? Sorry.

What Are Your Alternatives?

Because it isn’t possible to reprogram these thumb-sized billboards (unless you have expert coding and electronics engineering skills), you might be wondering what other options are available. There’s always the choice to ignore them, or you can cave in and sign up for the suggested services so you can enjoy quickly accessing them with the button.

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