Netflix recently launched a “Browse by Languages” tool to help filter content within their massive catalog. This is actually a useful feature for every subscriber, but it’s especially important as Netflix tries to expand their subscriber base outside of majority-English-speaking countries. Let’s see what this new filtering and sorting tool can do!
At the time of this writing, this feature is only available while viewing Netflix in a web browser. On the Browse by Languages page, users are presented with three dropdown menus next to the phrase “Select Your Preferences.” The first dropdown menu allows users to choose between “Original Language,” “Dubbing,” and “Subtitles.”
The second menu allows users to choose from a list of dozens of languages, including Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. Netflix offers movies in other Indian languages that aren’t included in the “Browse by” tool, so check my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to see what Indian and Pakistani films and shows Netflix offers in Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Punjabi, and Urdu.
The third “Sort by” menu allows users to organize results by “Suggestions for You,” “Year Released,” “A-Z,” and “Z-A.” The Netflix algorithm selects the display order when “Suggestions for You” is selected. Choosing “Year Released” displays content in reverse chronological order, starting with the newest releases.
Note that changing a selection in a menu resets the menus to its right to their default settings. If the left-most menu is set to “Original Language” and you choose “Dubbing,” it resets the “Language” and “Sort by” menus to their defaults of “English” and “Suggestions for You.” If you change the language, it resets “Sort by” to “Suggestions for You.”
There is no ability to filter the content to choose only movies or TV series, making this tool only so useful for languages with a large catalog presence like English or Hindi. (Although apparently a lot of users have been looking for a way to exclude non-English titles from their searches, according to What’s on Netflix.) What the tool is best for is showing a wider array of options than might be first apparent for languages with a smaller catalog footprint.
The tool is also good about accurately displaying titles under their “Original Language.” Netflix has a quirk whereby some Indian movies have dubbed versions that have to be selected from within the film’s audio options menu (like the Tamil movie Don), while other Indian movies get separate catalog ID numbers for every audio version of the film. The movie Kurup has five distinct catalog IDs: one for the original Malayalam, plus dubbed versions in Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu. Thankfully, the new “Browse by Languages” tool only displays Kurup when Malayalam is selected as the “Original Language.”
One exception is Baahubali, which appears under “Original Language” whether English, Hindi, Malayalam, or Tamil are selected. But Baahubali is the exception to many rules.
Overall, this tool is a really welcome addition to Netflix’s website. Anything that helps users find and organize content by their preferred language — and with the additional ability to display the most recently added content first — gives Netflix an advantage over competing streaming services.