Netflix TV gets major overhaul

Netflix
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 3:25pm

Netflix users who stream video to their televisions will be seeing a major overhaul in the next few days.

The company has announced what it's calling the biggest update ever for its more than 40 million streaming customers, rolling out a more visually rich design that will be the same regardless of what kind of device is used to bring videos from the Internet to the TV.

"This is the biggest change in how Netflix looks on a TV," said Chris Jaffe, Netflix's vice president of product innovation.

Netflix says that the majority of the 1 billion hours of video its users stream each month is viewed on televisions, via TV apps or devices like the Roku, Blu-ray players or gaming consoles.

Under the new format, which began rolling out Wednesday, clicking on a show or movie will call up a full-page description, with multiple images and an explanation of why Netflix recommended it for you. Descriptions of the videos will be sharper, Netflix says, and users who choose to let Netflix access their social-media profiles will get recommendations based on their activity and friends' activity, as well as on videos they've watched in the past.

Until now, most versions of Netflix streaming looked like a relatively flat grid, consisting of row after row of suggestions based, generally, on what kind of videos had been streamed by the user in the past.

"The new interface, which has been two years in the making, is a visually striking departure from the familiar grid of movie tiles and boxes, and it is designed to be mirror the experience of TV watching: you click the remote and something happens," wrote Miguel Helft in Fortune.

Other new features include expanded support for Netflix Profiles, a way to let people in the same household customize their experience, and support for voice controls on Xbox 360. Post-Play, the feature that automatically starts the next episode of a TV show you're watching or suggests others when you're done, also is being redesigned.

Netflix says the update will take about two weeks to reach all devices, which include PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Roku 3, and new and future smart TVs and Blu-ray players.

Some older smart TVs and Blu-ray players may receive the new look if manufacturers update them, and the overhaul will be added for the Roku 2 box early next year.

One set-top box that won't be getting the update is Apple TV. That system has "specific templates that are set by Apple," according to Netflix.

Netflix says it has more than 31 million U.S. subscribers to its streaming service, plus almost 10 million international subscribers.

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