SAN FRANCISCO – Netflix has launched a makeover of the streaming video service, a move that comes after a succession of new entertainment titles.
The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company has redesigned its interface for better discovery of its catalog on TVs. The new look will display three large slide-show images, a teaser synopsis and one personalized detail chosen by Netflix.
"We want discovery to be richer," says Chris Jaffe, vice president of product innovation at Netflix "I knew one of my personal frustrations was I felt like today's Netflix experience didn't give me enough reasons for why I should watch this vs. that."
Netflix's old look gave viewers less detail and was dated. The streaming service's titles appeared much like rectangular images of VHS boxes, with descriptions, information on the number of episodes and ratings. The new version has taken two large Netflix-selected still images from scenes and added them to the studio art.
Netflix says the redesign to its user interface is the biggest update to its TV experience in the company's history. The company has been quietly testing it out on several hundred thousand U.S. customers, and changes have resulted in greater member engagement, according to Netflix.
Netflix has also launched predictive and visual search. That allows for members to type in just a few characters, as done with Google searches, to get at titles. Results will be served with images from titles, as well.
"Improving the search is certainly going to help people connect with more content that they enjoy. But there is still more improvement they can make if they want to compete against the growing number of apps that people are going to find on their new game consoles, Rokus, Apple TVs and mobile devices," says Gartner analyst Brian Blau.
While it's been a few years since Netflix has remodeled its look, the Internet streaming service has been steadily marching out new deals for content. Last week, Netflix announced a deal with Disney's Marvel to bring original programs to the service in 2015. Netflix also announced last week that it would launch its original documentaryThe Short Game to its service in December as part of a larger push of first-run material from Netflix.
The service has won viewers with originals such as Emmy-winning House of Cardsand Orange is the New Black in a bid to become an original programming powerhouse.
The Netflix service redesign will affect game consoles, smart TVs with apps, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players. The makeover isn't intended for mobile devices. Netflix has done back-end work that will enable new features to appear simultaneously across platforms. Also, members will be able to find and launch titles more quickly.
The new service will be available worldwide in two weeks.