24 Comments

Summary:

Netflix just launched a new video player for web-based viewing, and it’s hot: Viewers can preview all other episodes while watching an episode of a TV show, the player allows seamless size changes and the overall design is much slicker than before.

new netflix player season preview

Netflix just rolled out a completely revamped video player for browser-based viewing, and I gotta say, it’s pretty slick: Not only does it come with lightbox-like text overlays while a video is paused, users can also preview entire seasons of a TV show while they’re watching one episode of the show in full-screen mode. I was told by Netflix that this is currently rolling out across the web.

The only downside of the new player seems to be that there can be some issues with Chrome on Mac OS – a warning screen told me to switch to Safari or Firefox for the best viewing experience. However, a quick test showed that basic playback was working just fine via OS X Chrome. A Netflix spokesperson explained via email: “Chrome on Mac support is a limitation of Microsoft Silverlight, not Netflix. It works on some Macs but not on others, so we allow it and give users a warning.”

Here are some of the biggest changes, complete with screen shots:

The player has a new, better-looking control bar that offers access to subtitles and season previews, and replaces text menus with bigger icons.

Additional episodes of a TV show can be previewed right from within the player, even in full-screen mode.

The player makes way for additional information, lightbox-style, when paused for a few seconds.

Netfix users can also resize the browser window during playback, and the video is resized fairly smoothly. This should make it easier to watch something while you’re doing something else on your computer, or adjust the size of the video window to play it on a connected TV.

Netflix has been emphasizing playback on connected devices, which now make up for the vast majority of the service’s usage, but today’s relaunch clearly show that there is still a notable demand for PC-based playback as well.

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  1. Does this mean I can now view Netflix video in Linux? Is Microsoft’s silverlight finally gone?

    1. As the article already says, this is still Silverlight-based.

      1. Oops… I need to learn to read. I just got so excited by the thought I could watch Netflix in Linux…

    2. Netflix doesn’t work on Linux because of DRM. There’s an open source project implementation of Silver light called Moonlight. So, in theory, Netflix would work on Linux (it does on ChromeOs a Linux distribution) if they wanted to. ;)

      1. Moonlight is roughly a 35% solution to Silverlight. Hats off to the Moonlight developers for a great effort but it’s always been a version or more behind. Microsoft doesn’t like sharing anything, especially with the Open Source community. If you had actually tried using the Moonlight plugin to access various Silverlight web sites, along with Netflix, you’d find it’s only occasionally dependable.

    3. One more vote for Linux here.

  2. I wish they would ditch silverlight and make it compatible on linux systems.

  3. Its making a pig’s ear of loading up HD streams at the moment even on a 20mb connection. Hope that’s just a teething issue

  4. Netflix is becoming more desparate for money. They have disabled the feature “to suspend for 5 days to 5 weeks” if you are not going to use netflix/going to vacation feature.

  5. Tried it. Looks awesome.

  6. A little too little too late. Not interested in Netflix anymore.

    1. So what are you interested in?

  7. I sincerely hope there’s a way to turn off the textual description when a video is paused; quite a few of them skirt VERY close to the line of spoilers. I wouldn’t want to have the episode I just started be spoiled for me just because I paused the video for a few seconds.

    1. I totally agree, and was just going to post the same comment. I never watch previews, and I never read the descriptions. Any description is a spoiler to me. If it’s not a total surprise, it’s not worth watching.

      And I don’t have and won’t allow Silverlight on my Mac, so I guess I can forget about Netflix for now.

  8. I’m sure others have said it already but Silverlight == (automatic) fail.

    The age of plug-ins is over. Even Microsoft says this. Get over the idea that people are going to download some wonky plug-in to view your content. I have Netflix and I love it. I view it on all my iOS devices use fine without Silverlight.

    On the occasional time when I want to watch it on a regular old-school computer and I forget that I need Silverlight it’s like a slap in the face. Why Netflix want’s to piss off it’s customers like this I don’t understand.

    There is nothing this app does that can’t be done with HTML 5.

    1. sadly neither supports adaptive streaming or DRM. The DRM is a studio requirement and as for adaptive streaming I know that Safari on the iOS devices support that but it’s an Apple format and not a W3C standard… MPEG-DASH however should eventually work in the browser, support DRM and provide an adaptive solution but for today Silverlight (and Flash) are building blocks that extend the capabilities of the browser and let folks like Netflix bring you a decent experience

  9. Jonathan Snarker Thursday, May 17, 2012

    I watched Netflix’s entire inventory of instant movies last month, so I need to find a service with a real catalog.

    1. If you truly did manage that, I’d suggest a life instead.

  10. Jamie Dillon Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Wow, when you rip off half the design ideas from the BBC iplayer it really makes an overhaul easy. I would say get creative, but American big business just loves to copy other peoples stuff.

    1. There’s truth to the saying, “Good programmers right good code; great programmers steal great code.”

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