More people are streaming television shows on mobile devices than ever before, and that’s leading to an interesting development from the largest streaming service.
Netflix head of product Neil Hunt announced this week that the company is considering different cuts of shows for mobile devices – like changes that make it easier to read subtitles or changes to brightness to make a show easier to see. “It’s not inconceivable that you could take a master copy and make a different cut for mobile,” he said. “It’s something we will explore over the next few years.”
Of course, this isn’t exactly sitting well with movie and TV fans. Netflix says they’re doing this to make sure the user experience is as good as possible across the board, but people watching the latest episode of Stranger Things won’t be happy to get different framing of the show just because they’re watching on a mobile device. Depending on how a show is filmed, certain aspects might not make it to the mobile cut.
This is hardly a new phenomenon though, as it’s something that TV viewers dealt with when movies in a widescreen format were cut for a 4:3 ratio. That format, called “pan and scan,” was widely criticized by a lot of people as a pretty poor viewing experience.
It’s no surprise that Netflix is considering this move. Mobile use is surging around the world, especially in Asia, and the company is going to do everything they can to appeal to that demographic.
Of course, the technology available today is a lot better than what was available back then, so there’s a very real chance that it will be a better quality cut this time around. Until Netflix reveals exactly how they plan to “recut” their shows though, expect a pretty healthy level of skepticism.