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This is what Netflix of the future will look like


Netflix's demo room in Barcelona

Subscriber numbers speak volumes for Netflix’ success, but innovation at the TV giant hasn’t halted.

Netflix has lifted the lid on a number of upcoming improvements to the way you use the service in a briefing with TrustedReviews at the Mobile World Congress 2016 tradeshow in Barcelona.

But with 75 million users to please, it’s a tough ask to make sure the firm gets it right for everyone.

Chris Jaffe, VP of Product Innovation, who is “responsible for everything you see on Netflix”, tells us that most of the major improvements Netflix rolls out are tested on 300,000 users before going live.

But what’s coming up in the pipeline for America’s internet streaming behemoth?

1. Borrowing from traditional TV

If you load up Netflix today and hover over a TV show, you’ll see a rotating carousal of images for that programme. But that’s about to change.

“You’ll start seeing video instead of the carousel of rotating images,” Jaffe reveals, adding that they’ve tested “various versions of the video” as well as “how long the video should be”.

netflixMarvel's Jessica Jones, a Netflix Original

The Netflix Product lead tells us the company currently has a whole department of employees working on developing these short “trailers”.

The version of the app we saw had videos – with audio – that showed several brief scenes per programme, with each clip around five seconds long.

We’re taking some of the things that people are used to from classic TV in terms of moving images and sound, and using them to make internet TV better,” Jaffe explains. “There’s an ingrained expectation that there’s going to be video and audio. We want to steal the best of that, but we want to bring that into the internet age.”

Jaffe says that while the product is in testing, the team “is very confident this is going to go out later this year”.

Related: Netflix vs Amazon Video

2. Plenty of new original content

If you hadn’t noticed, Netflix is pumping out plenty of original content – the acclaimed Beasts of No Nation is evidence of the scheme’s success.

netflixSense8, a Netflix Original

That’s a trend that’s not only going to continue, but increase at a significant rate, as Netflix tells us.

“[2016] is really around original and exclusive content,” says Jaffe, who admits Netflix has already spent $5 billion on this year’s original and exclusive content.

“We’ll launch more than 30 original series this year,” Jaffe tells us. “There’s be one new series every 10 days or so on the service, which is pretty crazy actually.”

He continues: “We’ll also premiere at least 10 original feature films on the service this year,” adding that the figure doesn’t even include upcoming original documentaries.

3. Better control over mobile data

Most of us are under the thumb of egregious data caps when using Netflix on the go, but the company is planning to resolve that very soon.


According to Jaffe, Netflix is gearing up to roll out “settings to more effectively manage your mobile data usage”.

We saw a preliminary version of the settings, which allow the user to decide whether or not to allow HD streaming. There’s also a new data-saving mode for lower bitrate videos, so you use less bandwidth.

Jaffe says that the update “will launch later this year for Android and iOS”.

4. Actor info on Chromecast

Google’s Chromecast is a hugely popular streaming device, and Netflix wants to ensure its app offers a good experience on the service.

“We’ve always been very excited about Chromecast,” says Jaffe, who reveals a new feature that’s coming to the platform.

He tells us that Chromecast will soon offer up information on actors in the show you’re watching, via your mobile device.

netflixOld vs new

Within arm’s length is a phone or tablet device for the vast majority of people,” Jaffe explains, saying the impending update will bring “actor-level metadata for the show you’re watching”.

“You can see all of the actors in the show,” he adds, “in addition to which, you’ll get related titles”.

We’re not privy to a firm release date, but Jaffe says the feature will arrive “later this year”.

Related: Netflix 4K Ultra HD review

5. Autoplay on mobile, finally

One of the best features on the TV and desktop versions of Netflix is autoplay, but it’s a perk sorely missed on mobile.

Fortunately, Netflix confirmed that you’ll automatically roll onto the next episode of a TV show you’re watching on iPhone starting today.

The update goes live at around 18:00 (GMT) according to Jaffe, and is intended “to make things really stupid simple, so now you can binge on your phone”.

Also included in the update is full support for Arabic language, which gels with the company’s recent global rollout.

Are you a Netflix subscriber? Tell us why – or why not – in the comments below.


February 24, 2016, 7:29 pm

Low cost, effective and on demand. The original content is as good as (and often better)) that what I can get on traditional TV and no commercials! YES!


February 25, 2016, 1:58 am

The video with audio is intensely annoying. I start up the app only to be bombarded with whatever featured video they choose to throw at me. Thanks, you just woke the baby! Now I have to remember to mute every time I start the app.

But how could they have known this would be so annoying when internet ads with sound are sooooo popular...


February 26, 2016, 2:47 pm

Netflix has a winning combination of good quality original content and a strong back-catalogue of older TV shows.

Good original content like Jessica Jones - one of the best and smartest shows on TV in any format - is the clincher. For the first time I am now recommending Netflix to my friends and family thanks to this one show.

There are five major frustrations with the Netflix service though:

1. Sudden unavailability of content with no warning. Obviously sometimes content licences lapse. But it looks like Netflix are not always that bothered or quick about renewing (for example Californication lapsed last year and then was renewed again but only 6 months later). And it's **extremely annoying** if you are part-way through watching a season of a TV show and it becomes available. Without checking external websites, there's no easy way for the user to predict this.

* Netflix ought to inform the user clearly if a TV show or movie in "My List" or "Continue Watching" will expire shortly. Especially for TV shows which can't be watched in one sitting. There should be minimum 4 weeks warning. Not to warn is disrespectful, like they don't care about their customers.

* The user should be able to order My List in order of what will expire soonest.

2. Content selection for kids and teenagers is narrower, and of
lower quality on average, then the selection for adults. There's no
Netflix original content for kids, and many of the best TV shows and
movies for kids (recent and back catalogue) are overlooked. Surely it can't be that expensive to carry the back catalogue content for kids?

3. Incomplete sets of TV shows - I mean sometimes some seasons of a show are carried but not all. Fair enough if it's a current or recent broadcast. Unacceptable if it's from 5 years ago.

4. There's no way to prevent Netflix from listing / suggesting content which you don't like, or have seen before, or own on DVD. You can't tell it, "Stop suggesting this for me". It needs an 'X' button, like Facebook Friends Suggestions.

5. The suggestions algorithm is not good. It sometimes gives me prominent suggestions for content that I really hate, as should be indicated by my genre preferences and viewing history. It sometimes fails to suggest things in the catalogue which I really like, and so I don't find them in the catalogue until months later. Even searches for similar titles often don't give all the results you expect. Amazon (and IMDb, which is Amazon) has a much better algorithm for suggestions.

I think Netflix should fix these basic issues before the fancier stuff discussed in the article.

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