Netflix has big plans for the second screen

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Netflix wants to give users the ability to control their apps on TVs and connected devices with their mobile phones, and the company is looking to roll out second-screen control features for a number of devices soon.

The company quietly rolled out second-screen control for the PS3 a few weeks ago, allowing users to start playback on the game console from their Android or iOS handset. “We expect to roll out 2nd screen control on a number of additional devices in the coming months,” a spokesperson told me via email, adding:

“Our overall strategy around second screen control is that Netflix on TV devices is a great viewing experience, but Netflix on mobile devices makes activities like browsing, searching, rating, and social easier. We see our users doing this naturally today and  are trying to support and optimize for that behavior.”

The PS3 second-screen feature was first discovered by a YouTube user, who posted the following video of the experience on the video sharing site (hat tip to Engadget):

Users who want to utilize this second-screen experience need to be logged into the Netflix application on both devices with the same Netflix account, and also have their mobile phone connect to the same Wifi network as the game console.

Netflix’s most recent Android app update already discovers Google TV devices within the same network, but playback doesn’t work yet.

One of the devices that could get Netflix’s second-screen experience next is apparently Google TV. I found out by chance this week that Netflix’s Android app already discovers Google TV devices located within the same network but isn’t able to actually start playback on them yet. Netflix’s spokesperson told me that the company doesn’t support second-screen functionality for Google TV devices “at this time,” but declined to comment further.

It makes a lot of sense for the company to use phones and tablets as remote controls for the TV screen. Netflix’s catalog now consists of roughly 50,000 titles, which is hard to navigate and search on a TV or connected device. Tablets on the other hand in particular make for great programming guides, and the ability to beam a video with one click to the big screen could be a great addition to the company’s apps.

Netflix isn’t the only company looking to take a hint from Apple’s AirPlay. Google has said that it is working on bringing an AirPlay-like experience to YouTube and other Google TV apps.

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