While Netflix CEO Reed Hastings spent most of his keynote presentation at this morning’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) reiterating how Netflix has transformed the way viewers access and consume content (we get it, streaming services like Netflix give the power back to the people), he did hit the audience with a pretty major announcement. During today’s presentation, Netflix turned on access to 130 new countries, including Vietnam, India, Nigeria, Poland and Russia, a massive increase from the 60 countries that had Netflix access prior to today’s announcement. The company has also increased its supported languages to 21, adding Korean, Arabic and Chinese.
Hastings also announced that Netflix will launch dynamic range definition later this year, though he didn’t hint at a release date. This is just on the heels of the service’s introduction of 4K ultra definition just two years ago. According to Hastings, since then, Netflix has become the leading creator of 4K content through their original series and films, which are primarily produced in 4K UHD.
Netflix certainly has played an active role in the 4K TV world. At CES 2015, Netflix was a part of Samsung’s announcement of the new UHD Alliance (UHDA), a group of TV manufacturers and content providers, including Netflix, tasked with setting standards for 4K TV content, terminology and delivery. The alliance was formed as an answer to the biggest issues surrounding 4K TVs: what consumers are able to watch and how they’ll be able to watch it. In December 2015, the group completed its specifications for UHD displays, content, and distribution, and this week at CES 2016 they unveiled the Ultra HD Premium logo that will identify devices, content and services that are capable of delivering a premium HD experience that meets those new specifications. However, chances are these specs will be updated very soon as LG’s 2016 OLED 4K TV, introduced at this year’s CES, already exceeds the Ultra HD Premium specs set by the UHDA.
This is a major advancement from what we heard from Netflix at CES 2015 when the service announced its Netflix Recommended TV program, touted to be a “smart TV evaluation program” designed to help consumers find TVs that deliver the best Netflix experience. Netflix announced the criteria used in the evaluation process in the spring of 2015, which included:
- Fast app launch
- Fast app resume
- Fast video playback
- Netflix button on remote
- Easy Netflix access on TV
- TV instant on
- Latest version of Netflix installed
What qualifies as “fast” and “easy” is unclear, but today certain models of Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Sharp, Sony, and VIZIO, as well as several ROKU TV manufacturers, are now considered Netflix recommended smart TVs.
More Original Content Coming in 2016
From a content standpoint, viewers can expect to see even more high quality, original content from Netflix, from comedies, dramas, sci-fi thrillers, documentaries and more. Notable mentions include “The Crown,” the story of Queen Elizabeth II; Baz Lurhmann’s “The Get Down“; and a documentary series by comedian Chelsea Handler. While Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, didn’t offer a full list of upcoming content, he did flash this graphic up on the screen:
What Netflix content are you looking forward to in 2016? Let us know in the comments.