Barry Enderwick, the former director of global marketing at Netflix, made in interesting LinkedIn post last December, in which he claimed the company was planning to release its own set-top box at one point, but decided against it in order to remain neutral in the hardware market so that it’s service would be available on as many platforms as possible. Avoiding competition with the likes of Apple and Roku was a smart move, but just because Netflix won’t release its own hardware doesn’t mean it doesn’t pick favorites. That’s exactly what Netflix Recommended is, a list of the company’s favorite smart televisions to stream movies and television shows on, and this year’s list has just been release.
For the second year running, Netflix is awarding its “Netflix Recommended” badges to smart TVs that meet its criteria. This year, the selection process has got a little tougher, with Variety reporting that the company has reduced the amount of time it gives TVs to perform certain tasks. A TV must meet five of the following seven criteria to get its stamp of approval from the company: it must turn on instantly, resume whatever activity was stopped, offer the latest version of Netflix’s app, launch and resume the app quickly, and make it easy to find the streaming service — either by offering a dedicated Netflix button on the remote, or making the app “prominent” in the user interface. Netflix says that increasing its speed requirements for some of these tasks will mean fewer TVs qualifying, but the streaming service has already picked its first winners: sets from Sony and LG. It’s interesting to note that many big names have yet to make the grade, including industry leader Samsung, which wasn’t recommended in 2015 either. The streaming service says the program is about pushing TV manufacturers around the world to improve their hardware, and while it’s true that many smart TVs still add more frustration than functionality to the viewing experience, there’s obviously a self-promotional aspect to the “Netflix Recommended” program too. Still, if you’re a binge watcher tired of waiting for Netflix to launch on your TV, look out for the company’s seal of approval next time you’re shopping for a new set.