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Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Netflix Tests Biggest TV App Redesign in 10 Years

FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
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Netflix Tests Biggest TV App Redesign in 10 Years

FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Netflix started rolling out the first major revamp of its television app in a decade on Thursday, testing changes designed to help viewers more quickly decide what they want to watch.
The video streaming pioneer wants to increase the time that viewers spend on the app to help retain customers and draw subscribers to its new, lower cost plans with advertising.
Company research showed users were performing what Netflix executive Pat Flemming called "eye gymnastics", or looking around to various parts of the Netflix home screen, when trying to find a title that interested them.
Viewers' eyes were darting around from "the row name to today's topics, to the box art, to the video, back to the synopsis," Flemming, senior director of member product, told Reuters in an interview. "We really wanted to make that simpler, more intuitive, everything easier to navigate."
Revisions to the home page included enlarging title cards, reorganizing information and highlighting easy-to-read tidbits such as a show or movie "spent 8 weeks in the top 10".
A subset of Netflix's nearly 270 million users around the globe will see the new format starting Thursday. The company will take feedback, and possibly make changes, before unveiling it more widely.
Netflix has been emphasizing engagement time as a key metric, telling investors it is the "best proxy for customer satisfaction". The company will stop regular reporting of subscriber numbers next year to shift Wall Street's focus.
Among other changes to the TV app, the menu button was moved from the left to the top of the screen. A new "My Netflix" tab was added, with shows or movies a user has started watching, or ones saved to check out later.
Netflix will continue to offer personalized suggestions to each user. It is not making any changes to its recommendation algorithm as part of the redesign, Flemming said.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Richard Simmons, a Fitness Guru Who Mixed Laughs and Sweat, Dies at 76

Richard Simmons. (Getty Images)
Richard Simmons. (Getty Images)
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Richard Simmons, a Fitness Guru Who Mixed Laughs and Sweat, Dies at 76

Richard Simmons. (Getty Images)
Richard Simmons. (Getty Images)

Richard Simmons, television's hyperactive court jester of physical fitness who built a mini-empire in his trademark tank tops and short shorts by urging the overweight to exercise and eat better, died Saturday. He turned 76 on Friday.

Simmons died at his home in Los Angeles, his publicist Tom Estey said in an email to The Associated Press. He gave no further details.

Los Angeles police and fire departments say they responded to a house — whose address the AP has matched with Simmons through public records — where a man was declared dead from natural causes.

Simmons, who had revealed a skin diagnosis in March 2024, had lately dropped out of sight, sparking speculation about his health and well-being. His death was first reported by TMZ.

Simmons was a former 268-pound teen who became a master of many media forms, sharing his hard-won weight-loss tips as host of the Emmy-winning daytime "Richard Simmons Show" and author of best-selling books and the diet plan Deal-A-Meal. He also opened exercise studios and starred exercise videos, including the wildly successful "Sweatin' to the Oldies" line, which became a cultural phenomenon.

"My food plan and diet are just two words — common sense. With a dash of good humor," he told The Associated Press in 1982. "I want to help people and make the world a healthier, happy place."

Simmons embraced mass communication to get his message out, even as he eventually became the butt of jokes for his outfits and flamboyant flair. He was a sought-after guest on TV shows led by Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and Phil Donahue. But David Letterman would prank him and Howard Stern would tease him until he cried. He was mocked in Neil Simon’s "The Goodbye Girl" on Broadway in 1993, and Eddie Murphy put on white makeup and dressed like him in "The Nutty Professor," screaming "I’m a pony!"

Asked if he thought he could motivate people by being silly, Simmons answered, "I think there's a time to be serious and a time to be silly. It's knowing when to do it. I try to have a nice combination. Being silly cures depression. It catches people off guard and makes them think. But in between that silliness is a lot of seriousness that makes sense. It's a different kind of training."

Simmons’ daytime show was seen on 200 stations in America, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan and South America. His first book, "Never Say Diet," was a smash best-seller.

He was known to counsel the severely obese, including Rosalie Bradford, who held records for being the world's heaviest woman, and Michael Hebranko, who credited Simmons for helping him lose 700 pounds. Simmons put real people — chubby, balding or non-telegenic — in his exercise videos to make the fitness goals seem reachable.

Throughout his career, Simmons was a reliable critic of fad diets, always emphasizing healthy eating and exercise plans. "There'll always be some weird thing about eating four grapes before you go to bed, or drinking a special tea, or buying this little bean from El Salvador," he told the AP in 2005 as the Atkins diet craze swept the country. "If you watch your portions and you have a good attitude and you work out every day you'll live longer, feel better and look terrific."

Simmons was a native of New Orleans, a chubby boy named Milton by his parents. (He renamed himself "Richard" around the age of 10 to improve his self-image). He would tell people he ate to excess because he believed his parents liked his older brother more. He was teased by schoolmates and ballooned to almost 200 pounds.

Simmons told the AP his mother watched exercise guru Jack LaLanne's TV show religiously when he was growing up, but he wasn't crazy about the fitness fanatic. "I hated him," Simmons said. "I wasn't ready for his message because he was fit and he was healthy and he had such a positive attitude, and I was none of those things."

Simmons went to Italy as a foreign exchange student and ended up doing peanut butter commercials and bacchanalian eating scenes for director Federico Fellini in his film "Fellini Satyricon." He told the AP: "I was fat, had curly hair. The Italians thought I was hysterical. I was the life of the party."

His life changed after getting an anonymous letter. "One dark, rainy day I went to my car and found a note. It said, 'Dear Richard, you're very funny, but fat people die young. Please don't die." He was so stunned that he went on the starvation diet that left him thin but very ill.

After the crash diet he gained back 65 pounds. Eventually, he was able to devise a sensible plan to take off the pounds and keep them off. "I went into the business because I couldn't find anything I liked," he said.

When Simmons hadn’t been seen in public for several years, some news outlets speculated that he was being held hostage in his own house. In telephone interviews with "Entertainment Tonight" and the "Today" show, Simmons refuted the claims and told his fans he was enjoying the time by himself. Filmmaker-writer Dan Taberski, one of his regular students, launched a podcast in 2017 called "Missing Richard Simmons."

In 2022, Simmons broke his six-year silence, with his spokesperson telling the New York Post that the beloved fitness icon was "living the life he has chosen."

One of the online tributes after Simmons’ passing was from actor-comedian Pauly Shore, who previously developed an unauthorized biopic of Simmons, which Simmons objected to at the time.

"I just got word like everyone else that the beautiful Richard Simmons has passed," he began in an Instagram post. "You’re one of a kind, Richard. An amazing life. An amazing story."