Why Netflix Is One Of The Most Innovative Companies Of 2017

It’s not only the great content. A major UI upgrade makes discovering what to watch fun again. (And now you can watch offline, too.)

Why Netflix Is One Of The Most Innovative Companies Of 2017
[Illustration: Matt Rota]

“When you turn on your TV,” says Chris Jaffe, VP of user-interface innovation at Netflix, “you’re used to things being loud and happening.” That’s what led Netflix to roll out a major UI upgrade in December, replacing static poster images with custom-created preview videos that automatically play when you scroll over a title card. The redesign encourages Netflix’s more than 93 million subscribers to serendipitously discover what to watch rather than tediously browse its catalog and wonder if something is worth sampling.

The upgrade, a company-wide effort that took nearly three years, demonstrates Netflix’s commitment to stand out from competitors such as Amazon for more than just content (though Netflix is planning to produce 1,000 hours of original shows in 2017 and plow $6 billion into its library, numbers that far outpace its rivals). The company also recently unleashed Download and Go, which allows users to watch shows like Stranger Things and The Crown offline.

“We started [2016] by making Netflix available everywhere,” says Jaffe of the company’s then-surprise expansion into 130 new countries. “We ended it with making sure you could take it anywhere with you.”

This article is part of our coverage of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017.