Netflix redesign kills off video store remnants

13 Nov

New Netflix TV Experience_Canada_ENThe irony gods are working overtime this week. On Monday, failed video store chain Blockbuster announced that the final movie rented in its stores was This Is The End, this past summer’s apocalyptic stoner comedy. What a fitting end to the chain’s long run, which is closing its last remaining stores.

Yet, as if that wasn’t enough, Netflix – the company largely responsible for Blockbuster’s death – is today rolling out a new redesign of its video streaming service that effectively kills off the last vestiges of the old rental store.

The new interface, seen above, is much slicker, unified and more intuitive than the rather sparse and different experiences Netflix had been delivering on different devices. Individual titles now have a series of still photos attached to them that rotate along the top of the screen, while recommendations and synopses are clearer and more concise.

The interface can also run on low-powered devices such as the Roku. When I met with him a few weeks ago, chief product officer Neil Hunt explained that this was key to Netflix’s desire to have the same, unified experience across devices. As it stands, the service looks very different on, say, the PlayStation 3 than it does on Apple TV.

The company will be better able to innovate with its interface and service if it can clean up that fragmentation, Hunt said.

Here’s a video explaining the changes, which Netflix is calling the biggest and most important in its history:

I couldn’t help but fixate on a quick, throw-away comment Hunt made while explaining the new interface. The astute observer will notice from the photo above and the video that title images are now horizontal rather than vertical, as they’ve always been on Netflix. That verticality, Hunt explained, was one of the “last remnants” of the video store era, where movies sat on shelves in vertical boxes.

TVs are, of course, horizontally-oriented devices so it no longer makes sense – if it ever did – to continue displaying titles in a vertical format. By shifting to these horizontal listings, Netflix is indeed nuking the last remnants of the video store. Talk about ironic timing.


Posted by on November 13, 2013 in netflix


2 responses to “Netflix redesign kills off video store remnants

  1. Netflix … because it isn't Rogers' On-Demand

    November 13, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Most movie posters are portrait but Netflix will probably generate their own images. I prefer the landscape mode.

    I tried a crippled Canadian Roku 3 just a week ago and it did not have the new Netflix interface even after a firmware update. It had the worst interface of all Netflix devices I’ve used. That was only one of several reasons why I returned the Roku and took a shower.

    I’m using to get access to the American library but you can’t add titles to a list anymore like I could with the Canadian version. Perhaps that will come later.

    The absolute worst thing I dislike about Netflix is its auto-play “feature” for TV series on the iPad where it automatically starts playing the next episode. There are times I want to see the closing credits but the auto-play feature truncates the title I’m watching with two minutes left making that impossible. I’m surprised the content providers aren’t in an uproar over having the credits truncated.

    What we need is a playlist, not Netflix deciding for us what is up next.

    But for $8 a month and a service that is trying to improve, I’ll take it. I’m still recovering from the horrors of the Rogers PVR software “upgrade” when I was still with them. In that case, what they did to the UI was worse than anything Apple has done lately to their OS and apps.

  2. Marc Venot

    November 13, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    TotalBiscuit has disabled comments on video at YouTube. So there is little reason for Netflix and the same to not present also this kind of presentation except to protect the remaining TV industry.

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