Netflix Experience Gets a TV Makeover

Netflix is reprogramming the way its Internet video subscription service appears on millions of television screens in an attempt to hook viewers for even longer periods.

The makeover of Netflix's TV menu will start showing up Wednesday on televisions that connect to the Internet through recently released Blu-ray disc players, PlayStation and Xbox video game consoles and the Roku 3 set-top box.

Netflix's service will look the same on its applications for mobile devices and its Web site, as well as on TVs that rely on Apple TV and a variety of other gadgets that stream Internet video.

As has been the case for years, Netflix Inc.'s revamped TV menu will continue to highlight entertainment that the company's automated recommendation system picks based on each subscriber's viewing preferences.

But the new design includes more visual thumbnails and details about the recommendations, including a capsule explaining why a particular movie or TV series might appeal to the interests of each subscriber. A blurb about each episode in TV series also will be shown. If a subscriber has enabled their Netflix activity to be tied to Facebook's social network, the new format also will list friends who have previously watched the video.

"This is the biggest change to the Netflix experience on televisions in our history," said Neil Hunt, Netflix's chief product officer.

Netflix's move marks another step in the company's push to make its online streaming service as compelling as any of the channels on cable and satellite systems. Unlike those channels, which are bundled in subscription packages, Netflix Inc. pipes its service through high-speed Internet connections and sells it as a stand-alone option for $8 month.

The company's alternative approach is increasingly popular, helping Netflix attract 31 million U.S. subscribers -- an audience that just surpassed that of HBO's older pay-TV channel. HBO, owned by Time Warner...

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