Netflix picture format issues

Hello Choice Community,
Has anyone had issues with the picture format options being greyed out on Netflix? This has been ongoing for months now and despite contacting Netflix 3 times I have not received a resolution (or even acknowledgement of the issue). It seems that many movies/shows are now appearing in the dreaded letterbox format and this cannot be changed because none of the options (inc. the aspect ratio) in picture format settings are AVAILABLE ie greyed out. This was never the case previously. This is severely impacting my viewing enjoyment, to the extent I barely watch Netflix anymore. I subscribe to several other streamers and none have this issue! Considering the increased subscription fees I’m seriously considering cancelling Netflix altogether- especially if this is something they have instigated without advising customers!
Any advice appreciated. I should add that I’ve tried all the usual fixes -powering down, deleting and reinstalling netflix app, ensuring software upgraded etc. All to no avail.

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Hi @claudia_w, welcome to the community.

Generally when menu items are grayed out, it means that the options aren’t available for the particular setup you have. It could be the TV and its operating system/firmware (or the device running the app) restricting the option availability or the Netflix app, or both.

If your TV has a screen ratio setting, it might be worth exploring this as a potential workaround. Some TV allow users to force an aspect ratio with content viewed on the screen. Here are some examples of how to do this:

https://helpguide.sony.net/apmig/bravia_i-manuals/FY12/EX650/NZ/c_picscrn_size.html

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Thanks very much for your reply @phb. I have tried that on the TV settings but it unfortunately makes no difference. In addition when I’m using any streaming app other than Netflix it has the ability to change aspect ratio ( not greyed out) so I really don’t understand why Netflix no longer has.
I have an LG OLED65C1PTB and I’m pretty sure this has not been a problem up to a few months ago. Certainly I wasn’t tearing my hair out when watching Netflix back then :joy:

Can I ask which of the Netflix subscriptions you are subscribed to?

It could be if on a cheaper one, you are being streamed a format that is fixed and cannot be changed (ie the greyed out options) and the TV can only display in a letter boxed format. Which may be something that can be changed on the TV with a setting. There are various types of 16:9 format for example and how the TV displays that.

Hi @Gregr ,
I’m on the Premium UltraHD. Which I assume actually means a premium service but could be wrong!

Well your TV is a recent model 4k UHD that should be able to fully adapt to anything sent to it in the best format. Other streaming has no issues you say.

Your subscription gives you 4k UHD streaming.

I can only think the problem is with the Netfilx app. You have said you reinstalled it, but where is it running? On the TV under WebOS, or on an external plugin device?

Or a wild idea. You are paying for a premium streaming service, but for some reason, getting basic feeds.

It’s running on TV web OS not an external plug in. I did delete the app and reinstalled twice. I’ve checked with other Netflix users and they are having the same issues. As I said I have spoken with Netflix 3 times and not a word! I surely can’t be the only user totally incensed by this!
Netflix checked my plan so definitely the top one. The money keeps going out regardless….

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One other question before I am out of suggestions.

When you reinstalled the Netflix app, where from? The LG app store, or the Netflix site?

Thanks for taking so much time with this! I reinstalled from LG. I have also contacted LG & they’re investigating. But first they’ve heard of this being an issue apparently.

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I would think that the Netflix app came preinstalled on the TV, and now it needs updating due to a change to Netflix streaming. Which may have only happened in the last few months as you have noticed.

The version in the LG app store may not have yet been updated to the latest one.

Something I would think between the LG and Netflix tech support should be able to give some sort of answer to.

You may want to try going to the Netflix Web site on the TV browser and do the reinstall / update from there.

It is disappointing as it could either be Netflix or your LG TV which has driven the change that different screen ratios are no longer supported in the Netflix app.

It is unlikely to change into the future, especially as TVs get older as new apps are generally developed for new models with some backward (older TV) compatibility. If new versions are apps aren’t supported on older TVs, app versions for older TVs aren’t updated and it is possible the app won’t work in the longer term.

A work around if your want to continue to have a fully functional Netflix app is to by a plug in device which supports the Netflix app. Such devices include Google ChromeCast, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick and the list goes on. Choice has reviewed these in the past:

We recently purchased a number of Chromecasts and have found they are easy to use and perform well. The downside is it is an extra cost and another remote on the coffee table.

Disappointing doesn’t really cover it😏. My TV is barely 2 years old and if Netflix changed something it seems customers are the last to find out. Maybe something CHOICE should look into because I think an extremely questionable practice. Especially considering subscription price increases. Anyway LG is following up my query.
As for a plug in device to compensate - that may fix the issue but doesn’t resolve it at the coalface. And that is something that really bothers me frankly. It shouldn’t be that hard for streamers like Netflix who make billions to come up with app updates that resolve major changes they make. Instead we are literally forced to spend more money on stuff we shouldn’t need and make even more e-waste! My opinion anyway.

Thanks for your time and help, much appreciated.

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Thanks, I’ll certainly give that a try! And I’m hoping LG may be able to sort it but not holding my breath.

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Choice is aware and this particular issue has been subject of other threads in the community, such as this one:

The smarts of a smart TV are becoming obsolete faster and faster, making a smart TV dumb very quickly. It is disappointing for a consumer, but fortunately there are workaround like that outlined above.

As many devices now have smart screens installed (IoTs, cars etc), the risk of the smarts becoming obsolete before the device has reached its end of live is very real.

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I would strongly recommend this from a security (and regular update) perspective. LG’s TV business is focused on making nice displays. The TVs are now provided with ‘smarts’, as this is a fairly cheap and easy way to add value - but those ‘smarts’ are unlikely to be updated as regularly as would an external plug in device whose entire purpose is providing them.

That is, while the external device is updated regularly a TV is less likely to be - which results both in the problems you are experiencing and in potential security problems not getting patched.

The ideal solution would be for TVs to be sold as dumb screens into which you plug the smarts, but that takes a profit centre away from the TV maker and also reduces the product’s functionality without saving an awful lot of money (probably only a couple of dollars per set on the ‘smart’ bits).

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Or, for the TV to have a common OS that is independent of LG et al for delivering the content. Android is the alternative for many mobile devices. It is also core to many TV’s. However there is a degree of customisation by brands that limits the future ability of Android to be updated independent of the brand. Something the EU is yet to take on.

Eventually though all hardware becomes redundant because it does not have capacity to deliver newer features. Capabilities us consumers never knew we needed, but which we’ve been longing for since Adam and Eve. (some sarcasm if not obvious) Even external devices one day will cease to support legacy dumb TV’s. Noting HDMI pass through currently can present some issues when connecting legacy devices.

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Yes, I understand that so called smart devices become obsolete very quickly. It just makes no sense that to counteract this we need more devices!
The trials of modern life😏

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Putting aside the philosophical argument of what a ‘smart’ TV is, the issue is about content streaming.

It takes three to tango. Sounds awkward. And it can be.

The streamer is the server side. That needs a client application that works with the server side to deliver the end product. Both the responsibility of, in this case, Netflix.

Then there is the platform the client runs on. The awkward third party in this tango.

It may be responsible for installing and updating the client app, or it may not. The streamer may produce client software for the platform, or may not.

The variety of TV operating systems is a mad dog’s breakfast that must make the job of software developers very hard indeed.

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Hi claudia_w. I just came to the thread, and notwithstanding that this situation is causing you major concern, you haven’t described what’s actually happening on the screen. What problem are you trying to solve? And why is that not a problem with other services?

I don’t have Netflix, but I do have an LG OLED TV and I’d like to see if I can replicate what you’re seeing. It would also be really useful to know if you can find another Smart device to connect to the TV to see if the same thing happens. That could be a phone (casting via WiFi?), but probably better to find a device that will attach via HDMI: laptop, Fetch box, chromecast, Roku/TelstraTV, or similar. In fact, the more the merrier. They all have Netflix apps or access, and you might get different outcomes.

Hello and thanks. The problem is no picture format options while watching Netflix. That is, aspect ratio etc greyed out and not available. In speaking with other Netflix users it seems this is an issue regardless of TV type. Netflix is the ONLY streamer where this occurs. On the TV itself and while watching other streamers I have the option to change aspect ratio, just not on Netflix. A lot of shows/movies, even new ones, only appear in letterbox format . Considering I have a 65” TV this is driving me nuts, when a lot of the screen is now black bars top & bottom. I’ve been advised that having something like Chromecast may fix this. No joy from either Netflix or LG re this issue at the moment and I doubt I will hear from either again! Choice community members have given me a lot more help and it seems the only option may be something like Chromecast. But some research tells me that LG has not updated their software for a while so if this is true how will this affect having an external device? I’m not tech savvy enough to understand how these devices actually work.

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