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Netflix is one of the largest streaming companies out there, with millions of viewers in the Us and UK and reams of television shows and movies from trash TV to high-concept, high-budget, award-winners.
But despite its near-ubiquity, it can be hard to understand everything that viewers can do on the platform – and harder still for the prospective viewer working out whether Netflix is something that they want.
All the Netflix questions that people need to know to get them started are answered here, as well as personalisation features, and even some tips and tricks for those who already have the service and want more control over what they’re paying for.
What is Netflix?
Netflix is a streaming service available on Android and iPhone smartphones and tablets, computers, games consoles, Smart TVs, streaming boxes, and via the Internet.
It began life in 1997 as a DVD subscription service, similar to Blockbuster, posting rented movies to US consumers.
It hosts films and TV shows that it both purchases licenses for and makes itself under the Netflix Originals banner.
How much is Netflix?
Netflix comes in three tiers: the Basic plan, which lets users watch content on one screen at a time and download content on one device at a time, costs £5.99 per month.
The Standard plan, which lets users watch High Definition (HD) content on two screens at a time and download content on two devices at a time, costs £8.99 per month.
The Premium plan, which which lets users watch Ultra HD (4K) content on four screens at a time and download content on four devices at a time, costs £11.99 per month.
It is likely that Netflix will soon increase these prices, however, following the recent cost hike in the US.
While you can sign up for Netflix in the app on Android, there is no similar function for iPhones and iPads. This is because Apple takes a 30 per cent cut of all in-app purchases, making subscriptions more expensive, and so users will have to sign up via a browser before using Netflix on Apple devices.
Can you get a free trial?
Netflix did offer a free trial, but it does not any longer. In some locations, users might be able to receive their second month free, rather than the first, but the company has said it is “looking at different marketing promotions … to attract new members”.
Do you need a TV licence to watch Netflix?
You do not need a TV license to watch Netflix, as the TV license only covers watching TV or live online TV services, such as the BBC iPlayer.
However, this does include other streaming services that broadcast content live, such as Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, ITV Hub or All 4.
“Remember, if you watch or record TV programmes live on any channel or TV service, or download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer, you need to be covered by a TV Licence”, TV Licensing explains.
How do I get Netflix?
What do I do once I have Netflix?
The obvious answer to that is watch TV shows and movies, but there are still a few more extra features users should know about to get the most out of the app.
The first is setting up different profiles for different people, for families and friends sharing accounts.
To do that, go to the Manage Profiles page on Netflix’s website (or found under the More button in the bottom right of its app) and then click “Add Profile”. You can then give it a name, icon, and different language.
This is also where you set up a Kids profile, which limits content to shows and movies for under 12s. All profiles, apart from the Kids profile, can also access parental controls, access to which can be changed from a Netflix account on the web.
This is also where languages can be changed under the “preferred language” setting. Netflix lets you change languages while watching shows – more on that later – but if the users’ is not available it can be edited in these profile settings.
Once that’s set up, next is downloading content so it can be watched without a wi-fi or mobile data connection.
In the Netflix app on iOS (for iPhones and iPads), Android, and computers like Chromebooks, there will be a “Downloads” tab at the bottom.
Users that have no downloaded content will be met with a link that takes them to shows which are available to be downloaded.
Viewers can also download content by tapping on the TV show or film itself, and then the small arrow icon. Users are able to have up to 100 downloads at once on as many devices as their plan allows – although not all TV shows and movies are available to be downloaded.
To make watching easier, or for viewers with vision or hearing problems, subtitles, captions, and audio description settings can be easily adjusted. On the app, an “Audio & Subtitles” pop-up at the bottom of the screen brings up the available choices, while a speech bubble button is used in the browser. Most shows have audio descriptions available, but there will be some that do not.
Lastly, there are a few extra changes that make the viewing experience a little more comfortable. Playback speed, for example, can be changed using a speedometer meter in the bottom right of the screen, and if a show finishes and users do not want to be hurled into the next episode, autoplay can be turned on and off back in the profile settings under “Profile & Parental Controls”.
For viewing on the web, there are a number of handy keyboard shortcuts that make browsing more efficient, which can be seen below.
Exit full screen
Rewind 10 seconds
Fast forward 10 seconds
Netflix also has a range of secret codes for pretty specific genres, ranging from “Romantic Foreign Movies” to “B-Horror Movies”, and lets users find niche content that they might otherwise not.