Netflix reveals the top TVs it thinks you should use to binge watch in 2019

Netflix has a tradition, in practice since 2015, of annually proclaiming which TVs, of all the TVs in the land, are best suited to serving you its content. The streaming company’s criteria for determining “best” is different from what you’d expect from Wirecutter or Consumer Reports — but if you’re a Netflix ride-or-die level fan, they might be the only criteria you really care about.

Without further ado, here’s the list of 2019’s Netflix-recommended TVs:

  • Samsung Q60R/Q70R/Q80R/Q90R/Q900R series, RU8000, The Serif and The Frame devices
  • Sony BRAVIA X85G/X90G series and A9G series
  • Panasonic VIERA GX700/GX800/GX900 series

That list may seem short, and it is, relative to the number of TVs on the market that offer Netflix directly on device. But Netflix points out that the list can grow throughout the year depending on device and software update availability.

If, like me, you are an informed consumer who does a lot of research before making a large purchase like, say, a big-screen TV, you might be curious at the omission of LG’s OLED series, the 2019 iteration of which came to market just a couple of months ago. For a possible answer, let’s take a look at the criteria Netflix uses to make their list. (Note: I asked Netflix directly about LG and they provided a generic answer about brands dropping from the list year-to-year on occasion based on criteria and performance requirements.)

Essentially, landing an official Netflix nod means that a TV can provide its user access to Netflix “within just a few seconds,” that it allows you to “quickly and easily” navigate between different apps, that it provides access to the most up-to-date version of Netflix and that it gives you access to all Netflix’s latest features “for a better browsing experience.” In total, there are seven criteria, and a TV must meet five to be eligible for a Netflix recommendation.

Demo of how much faster Netflix loads on TVs that use the company’s “Always Fresh” background activation feature. Bottom screen is with “Always Fresh” active.

One criteria that’s new this year might be the one that’s put the “recommendation” out of reach for LG and webOS – it’s called “Always Fresh,” and it requires that a TV keep Netflix awake for an occasional background refresh, meaning it’s always primed and ready to go, with more or less instant playback regardless of network connection speed.

It’d be easy to knock Netflix for making this one of the conditions of receiving its recommendations (which are based solely on testing and meeting its standards — the company told me no money changes hands in this program), but it’s not barring companies that don’t meet these criteria from offering its service. And it’s using its market weight to help motivate TV makers to provide an experience that will genuinely be better for consumers.