Netflix posted a related article, 

Netflix posted a related article, Redesigning the Netflix API, where they go into a more details about their process. The idea is to ask why is a device so chatty? Can the number of requests be cut in half? Since this will drive up payload sizes, they will try using partial responses as a counter measure. Their goal is to conceptualize the API as a database. What does this mean? A partial response is like a SQL select statement where you can specify only the fields you want back. Previously all fields for objects were returned, even if the client didn't need them. So the goal is reduce payload sizes by being more selective about what data is returned.