All About The Netflix Streaming Service

Are you a cord cutter or streaming fan? Check out what Netflix has to offer

Netflix is a popular streaming service that offers a huge catalog of movies and TV shows to watch. The service is available on smart TV, through streaming devices, and even on your smartphones and tablets. Here's what you need to know about Netflix, including pricing and information about the content Netflix offers.

As of December 2, 2019, Netflix no longer works on 2010-11 or earlier smart TVs from Samsung, 2012-2014 Vizio Smart TVs running Internet Apps/Apps Plus, and several older Roku media streamers. It's possible 2010-11 smart TVs and media streaming devices from other brands may also be affected. Contact tech support for your brand and model TV or streaming device for more details.

What is Netflix?

Netflix started in 1997 as a company that pioneered the concept of 'renting DVDs by mail' with the innovative concept of charging a flat monthly fee, instead of charging by each DVD ordered and, as a result, the corner video rental store phenomenon started to die, and by 2005, Netflix had a loyal 4.2 million DVD-by-mail rental subscriber base.

In 2007 Netflix made a bold announcement that it was, in addition to its DVDs-by-mail rental program, going to add the ability for subscribers to stream TV shows and movies directly to their PCs.

Then, in 2008, Netflix partnered up with LG to introduce the first Blu-ray Disc player that also was able to connect to the internet for streaming Netflix provided content. Blu-ray Disc playback and internet streaming in the same box (the network Blu-ray Disc Player was born) was not only convenient but provided a way to suck in DVD and Blu-ray Disc fans into the streaming alternative.

After that it didn't take long for Netflix streaming to become available on the Xbox, Apple devices, and a growing number of TVs, and even smartphones and tablets.

The Netflix DVD/Blu-ray Disc rental service is still available and actually features a much broader selection of TV and movie titles than offered on their streaming service.


How Netflix Works

Netflix content can be accessed through many internet-connectable devices, including smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc Players, media streaming devices, game consoles, smartphones, and tablets. However, Netflix is not a free service (Although a free 30-day trial is available).

Netflix is a subscription-based service that requires a monthly fee. As of 2020, its fee structure is as follows:

  • Basic: $8.99 per month for new subscribers that only want SD resolution access only. Limited to 1 device.
  • Standard: $12.99 per month. Up to 1080p resolution, viewing on 2 devices at the same time allowed.
  • Premium: $15.99 per month. Up to 4K UHD resolution. Allows viewing on up to 4 devices at the same time.

Once you have access to the Netflix service, an onscreen menu display on the TV screen that allows you to navigate through hundreds of TV shows and movies via clicking on icons (look like DVD covers), or via a search tool.

What You Can Watch on Netflix

Netflix offers hundreds of TV programs and movie titles, new titles are added and old titles removed on a monthly basis. Here are some examples of the content available on Netflix:

ABC TV Shows

Lost, Marvel's Agents of Shield, Once Upon A Time

CBS TV Shows

How I Met Your Mother, Hawaii Five-0 (Classic Series), Hawaii Five-0 (Current Series), Mash, Star Trek - The Original Series (Originally Aired on NBC, but now owned by CBS)

FOX TV Shows

Bob's Burgers, Bones, Fringe, New Girl, X-Files

NBC TV Shows

30 Rock, Cheers, Heroes, Parks and Recreation, Quantum Leap, The Blacklist, The Good Place

WB TV Shows

Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supernatural, Supergirl

AMC TV Shows

Breaking Bad, Comic Book Men, Mad Men, Walking Dead

Other TV Shows

Sherlock, Sons of Anarchy, Star Trek - The Next Generation, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Netflix Original Shows

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Hemlock Grove, The Queen, Mindhunter, House of Cards, You, The Defenders, The Order, On My Block

Movies 

Hugo, Marvel's The Avengers, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hunger Games - Catching Fire, The Wolf of Wall Street, Twilight, The Highwaymen

However, as much as Netflix offers, there are some limitations. Not only are programs and movies added each month but after a time (or a decrease in popularity), content is also "deleted" from the service as well. Unfortunately, Netflix does not post that information on their service menu, but it is available through third-party sources. Also, Netflix does post a listing of upcoming additions to their original content, which can be accessed via the PR portion of their website.

Netflix also offers hundreds of TV shows and episodes. If they are a current, multi-season show, you only have access to past seasons, not the currently running season. TV shows typically run one season behind on Netflix.

Netflix Menu Example

Netflix Hidden Genre Categories

Another interesting thing about Netflix is its extensive hidden genre category list system. As you use Netflix, the TV/Movie selection menus that are displayed begin to conform to what it thinks your genre preferences are. That content offering system has a tendency to box you in with limited choices, and as a result, you end up using the Search tool to find what you want.

However, you can access dozens of additional categories directly by typing special URL codes into the browser address bar that can take you to additional niche categories, ranging from categories such as "Movies for ages 8 to 10" to "New Zealand Movies" and lots more.

The Netflix Download Option

Netflix has a download option alongside its streaming service at no extra cost. Upon updating the Netflix App on a compatible device (such as media streamer, iOS, or Android phone with added storage), you can download selected Netflix content for later viewing at home or on the go.

Also, if you take advantage of the Smart Downloads feature you can download selected content for offline viewing on iOS or Android devices that automatically deletes after viewing. This not only saves space but if you are following a series, once the episode you have watched is deleted, the next episode downloads automatically.

Keep in mind that you need adequate storage space forfor downloads, either standard or high quality (4K is not included).


Netflix in 4K

In addition to streaming traditional TV and movie content, Netflix also offers an increasing number of programs for streaming available in 4K (mostly Netflix in-house produced programming). The 4K listings are only visible is the Netflix detects that you are viewing on a 4K compatible video display.

Netflix 4K Content Offerings Example
Netflix 4K Content Offerings Example. Image provided by Netflix

Also, for those that don't have 4K access, many Netflix TV shows and movies are offered in 720p and 1080p resolution, as well as Dolby Digital Surround Sound.

Netflix automatically scans your internet connection and if your broadband speed can handle the 1080p signal, the resolution will automatically be downscaled.

Netflix Recommended TVs

Netflix is available on many devices, including media streamers, Blu-ray disc players, and TVs. However, while all compatible devices have access to the Netflix streaming library, not all those devices have access to 3D or 4K content, nor always incorporate the most currently available onscreen interface, and other operational or navigation features.

As a result, Netflix ptovides a list of 'Recommended TVs' that must meet at least five of the following criteria to earn the Netflix Recommended TV label:

  • Latest Netflix Version: Your TV automatically (or by prompt) updates to the most recent version of the Netflix interface.
  • TV Instant On: When you turn on the TV, the Netflix App is ready to use.
  • TV Resume: Your TV remembers where you were when you last had it on - whether that be watching Netflix or another TV channel or service and takes you right back when you turn the TV on again.
  • Fast App Launch: When you click on the Netflix App, it takes you to Netflix quickly.
  • Fast App Resume: If you are watching Netflix, but need to leave and use another TV function or watch a non-Netflix program or service when you return, Netflix will remember where you left off.
  • Netflix Button: The TV has a dedicated Netflix direct-access button on the remote control.
  • Easy Netflix Icon Access: If you are using the TV's on-screen menu to access Netflix, the Netflix icon must be prominently displayed as one of the content access choices.

Check out the periodically updated Official Netflix Recommended TV's List for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 brands/models.

For a periodically updated list of all devices that provide Netflix access (but may not necessarily include all of the above criteria that TVs are evaluated under, check out the Official Netflix Device List