Netflix unveils seal of approval for streaming-optimized TVs

Netflix wants smart TVs to be less dumb: The streaming service will unveil a new seal of approval at CES in Las Vegas Monday that is meant to highlight TVs optimized for streaming video. TVs that feature the new “Netflix-recommended TV” logo will feature easier navigation, a snappier performance of the Netflix app and other features that are supposed to make streaming just as easy as watching regular TV.

Netflix's new seal of approval for streaming-optimized smart TVs.

Netflix’s new seal of approval for streaming-optimized smart TVs.

Some of the first companies to make [company]Netflix[/company]-recommended TVs at the show include [company]Sony[/company], [company]LG[/company], [company]Vizio[/company] and [company]Sharp[/company], as well as makers of Roku’s TV sets. Some devices, including LG’s 2015 webOS TVs, are expected to be on display at CES. The program will launch in the U.S. first, but it obviously would make sense for the company to expand it to its other markets as well.

Netflix executives have be talking for some time about the need to improve the streaming experience of smart TVs. Netflix’s Partner Devices Director Scott Mirer told me back in 2013 that the company had begun to talk to TV manufacturers and chipset makers to improve their TVs, which traditionally have been optimized for cable or broadcast viewing. “They are really still old-style linear TVs with some network feature bolted on,” Mirer said at the time about existing smart TVs.

One example Mirer gave me back then was instant-on: When you turn off your iPad or phone, it goes into a standby or sleep mode. Turn it back on, and you’re able to resume whatever you’ve been doing before, whether it was watching a video on Netflix or interacting with another app. TVs, on the other hand, are off for good. Press the power button to turn a TV back on, and you’ll have to go back to the smart TV app section, select the Netflix app, and then find your last video to continue watching.

That’s why instant-on is one of seven criteria Netflix developed for its new seal of approval. A Netflix spokesperson declined to share the full list for this story, but said that device makers who want to slap the Netflix-recommended TV logo on their models need to meet a total of five of those seven criteria.

It makes a lot of sense for TV makers to optimize their smart TVs for easier Netflix viewing and streaming in general. The average Netflix subscriber now watches 90 minutes of programming from the video service every single day, and TV makers like Vizio have been talking about a nearing inflection point, with streaming overtaking traditional TV viewing.