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.