Netflix is upping its game for 2015 with a new television interface and beefed up security. In a quarterly letter to shareholders, the company revealed some of its plans for the upcoming year—a year that will see new competition from HBO Now and an upcoming streaming competitor from Showtime.
During the second half of 2015, Netflix will roll out a new user interface for its television apps. The company isn’t sharing specific details about the new interface, but says it will “bring video playback forward into the browse experience.”
It’s not clear what that means, but it sounds like some kind of video preview may start auto-playing when you’re browsing titles. Netflix says it will also work on improving how it promotes Netflix original content to subscribers including better targeting original shows based on your viewing history.
The story behind the story: Netflix says it isn’t competing with HBO Now because the two companies offer different content to their respective subscriber bases. But there’s only so many streaming dollars to go around and it’s not yet clear if people are willing to pay for both a Netflix and HBO Now subscription—not to mention other choices like Sling TV and Hulu. Adding a new TV interface and focusing on better promoting Netflix’s growing catalog of original content will help the company stand out from HBO’s fledgling cable-free streaming service.
HTTPS for all
As for security, Netflix says it will soon secure all connections between users and the company’s servers with HTTPS encryption, including video streams and pages where you browse content.
Right now, Netflix only secures your connection with its site when you login or for other sensitive data like your account payment details. Streaming content and browsing titles, however, is left unsecured, potentially revealing your viewing interests to third parties.
What you watch can reveal a lot about you including your personal interests and political beliefs so it’s good news that Netflix is securing this data from passive surveillance.
Netflix says it decided to implement HTTPS to protect subscriber privacy on public Wi-Fi and to prevent eavesdropping from employers and Internet Service Providers. However, Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, found an academic paper from two Netflix engineers that suggests the Snowden leaks were also an influencing factor.
Numerous big tech companies have used the Snowden revelations as inspiration to more heavily encrypt their data, most notably Google.
Netflix says it expects to complete the HTTPS roll out over the next year.