For all the perks of cutting the cable cord and streaming everything you watch, old-fashioned TV still has huge advantages: convenience and dependability. You turn it on, the content plays, and you don’t have to worry about your favorite show grinding to a sudden halt to buffer. Seldom is life so easy in the streaming world.
Netflix wants to fix that–or rather, reward others for fixing it. Starting today, the video-streaming giant is officially slapping its logo on television sets that it thinks are best-equipped to deliver its TV shows and movies in the fastest, most hiccup-free fashion.
The first round of Netflix-approved TVs are the LG 4K UHD TV, Sony Android HDTVs, and the Roku TVs from Hisense, Insignia, and TCL.
First announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the Netflix Recommended TV program evaluates new smart-TV models for things like how quickly the device powers on, launches the app, and resumes video clips where the viewer left off.
The general idea here is to make Internet TV feel more like its legacy counterpart, an important piece of the mainstreamification puzzle for the companies trying to make over-the-top video streaming more of a viable replacement for traditional TV.
Speed is a huge part of that. As Netflix explains in a company blog post:
We’re particularly excited about the Instant On functionality supported by Roku TVs and the Sony Android Full HDTVs. These TVs wake up quickly, remembering where you left off, similar to how smartphones and tablets behave today. These Sony and Roku TVs are also capable of turning on and launching Netflix with the press of a single button, making getting to Netflix faster than ever before. The LG 4K UHD TVs with webOS 2.0 have made special optimizations to make streaming services like Netflix launch much faster, and all of these devices offer improved user interfaces, allowing you to move seamlessly between live TV and Internet TV services.
Roku is of course best known for its Apple TV-style set-top box, which just got a refresh of its own yesterday. The $100 Roku 3 now sports voice search, a feed of recent videos, and a provider-agnostic video search tool that lets users seek out movies and TV shows across a wide range of service at once.
Voice search is already available with Amazon’s Fire TV stick, and it’s only a matter of time before Siri finds her way onto the Apple TV, which just got a price cut to $69–not to mention a huge coup with its exclusive HBO partnership. With Netflix now allying itself with Roku, consider the battle lines drawn.