Once I reviewed the brand new Chromecast with Google TV in October, I gave it a powerful advice largely as a result of it performed properly with Netflix.
In distinction to Roku gamers and Amazon Hearth TV gadgets, the brand new Chromecast doesn’t make you leap by way of a number of apps simply to see what you’ll be able to watch. As a substitute, it gives its personal top-level menu system for searching the catalogs of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and a number of other different streaming companies. To me, this strategy represents the way forward for streaming, and it appeared like Netflix was able to embrace it.
That modified final week, when Netflix’s Google TV integration collapsed with out clarification. Whereas the Netflix app remains to be obtainable on the brand new Chromecast, Netflix’s unique motion pictures and exhibits now not seem within the Google TV information, and you may now not add Netflix originals to your watchlist.
The sudden reversal blows a giant gap in Google’s plans to make sense of streaming, nevertheless it’s additionally a uncooked deal for anybody who already purchased the brand new Chromecast (or worse but, pay as you go for six months of Netflix to get the system for affordable). With out the backing of the largest subscription streaming service, Google’s TV information is all of a sudden quite a bit much less common.
Trying to find solutions
We’ve seen this kind of factor occur with Netflix earlier than.
Apple, as an illustration, gives its personal common streaming information on Apple TV containers, nevertheless it doesn’t combine with Netflix both. On Roku gamers, the “My Feed” characteristic that alerts customers to new seasons of TV exhibits doesn’t work with Netflix, and again when Microsoft was pushing the Xbox as an leisure hub, its personal try at a common information didn’t embrace any Netflix content material. On earlier variations of Google’s Android TV software program, Netflix additionally hasn’t supported the “Play Subsequent” row that lets customers shortly resume exhibits that they’re already watching, regardless of earlier guarantees to take action.
Up to now, we’d have attributed this to skittishness on the a part of all streaming companies, which usually don’t need their very own apps to be rendered irrelevant. However as time goes on, different companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime have all built-in with common guides like Apple’s TV app and Google TV. Netflix is exception to the rule.
The general image is of an organization that’s extraordinarily sensitive about making content material obtainable outdoors of its personal app, the place it may possibly totally management the expertise and attempt to maintain customers hooked. Whereas Netflix usually helps search options on streaming gadgets, it’s been far much less receptive to alternate technique of navigating the Netflix catalog.
None of that explains why the brand new Chromecast with Google TV launched with Netflix integration within the first place, solely to have it hobbled later, however my makes an attempt to get solutions from both firm yielded nothing of substance. Google merely stated that the extent of integration on the brand new Chromecast can fluctuate by associate, and Netflix stated it’s attempting to make sure a constant expertise throughout gadgets.
Which means we will solely speculate on what’s actually taking place. On Android gadgets, Netflix at present lets customers enroll by way of the app with a bank card as an alternative of Google’s in-app buy mechanism (from which the search large will get a 30% reduce), so possibly Google’s plans to crack down on such habits soured the connection between the businesses. Possibly the combination created some friction between Netflix and its different system companions that don’t take pleasure in the identical integration privileges. Or possibly Netflix simply noticed some aspect of the Google TV expertise that it didn’t like.
In any case, the feedback I received from Google and Netflix each had an air of finality to them, so I wouldn’t depend on the combination coming again anytime quickly.
For folk like me who nonetheless dream of a really common streaming information, what are you able to do?
If you happen to haven’t already purchased the brand new Chromecast with Google TV, the TiVo Stream 4K all of a sudden appears to be like extra interesting. It gives the same streaming information that also integrates with Netflix—it’s unclear how that’s being permitted, although I even have theories there—and has ironed out among the preliminary kinks I skilled in my evaluation. And whereas its stay TV menu doesn’t tie into YouTube TV like Google’s streaming participant, it does work with Sling TV and Pluto TV as an alternative.
You can even use a third-party streaming information app comparable to Reelgood or JustWatch to handle a watchlist and browse for motion pictures and exhibits. Each companies provide apps on Android TV gadgets, together with the brand new Chromecast with Google TV (for Reelgood, you’ll have to enroll in the beta first), and so they present comparable guides to what Google TV gives. While you select one thing to observe, they’ll take you proper into the suitable app to start out streaming. You’ll be able to even use the Button Mapper app to have both service launch if you press (or double-tap) your distant’s dwelling button.
The opposite possibility, after all, can be to stay it out with Google TV. Whereas Netflix originals aren’t built-in anymore, Netflix’s licensed motion pictures and exhibits nonetheless seem within the common information, and you may nonetheless add them to your watchlist. Netflix originals additionally nonetheless present up in Google TV’s “Proceed Watching” row, so in case you begin watching a present like The Queen’s Gambit contained in the Netflix app, you’ll be able to nonetheless shortly choose up the place you left off straight from the house display.
In addition to, different main streaming companies don’t appear to share Netflix’s hangups over common streaming guides. As earlier than, you’ll be able to nonetheless use Google TV to browse the catalogs of Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Sling TV, and CBS All Entry.
With out having to compete with Netflix suggestions, maybe you’ll find yourself gravitating towards these companies a bit extra and utilizing Netflix a bit much less. And who is aware of? possibly you’ll even understand you don’t want a Netflix subscription as a lot as you thought, particularly when it’s erecting pointless obstacles between you and its content material.
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