Re: Netflix

Two and a half years ago, I wrote what was probably my most efficient post ever (in terms of quality-to-wordcount ratio). Netflix, I claimed in 90 words, was a really obvious destination for relatively basic social integration, with use cases for sharing that already mirror or enhance real life media-consuming behavior.

I’m amazed that “Netflix Friends,” and being able to find mutually interesting movies, haven’t come to pass yet.

Instead, the company recently unveiled Netflix Profiles. On the plus side, I guess this means the product team has a pulse. But really, if you ask me, this idea is almost entirely backwards.

Per this new feature, you can now add up to five different profiles to a single Netflix account so that the movies one “member of your household” watches don’t get conflated with the recommendations for another member. That’s fantasy. In reality: The “members” of my current “household” are me and Kevin, my former roommate who presently lives in a different timezone. I wouldn’t be surprised if our family even had a handful of other “members.” With Profiles, it’s now even less painful for me to leech off Kevin’s account. One of the very few reasons I’d ever consider starting my own account (aside from the feeble complaints aired by my moral compass) was for the benefit of having my own personal recommendations surface.

Why would Netflix create a free feature that works as a direct substitute to the company’s primary source of revenue? Isn’t that completely insane?

Furthermore: Almost all of the imagery Netflix uses looks like this:

Fetflix Namily

A family, or group, sitting around to watch something together. That seems to be the primary, ideal use case. Why would you build a feature designed to support doing the exact opposite?

If they’d had their hearts set on multiple profiles per account, then fine. What they should have done, though, is set up the mutual recommendation algorithms first. Not just because this is far more in-line with the primary depicted use case. But also because once that’s in place, there becomes much more concrete, discernible value in having five individual profiles — you’d thus be empowered to surface great, discrete movie suggestions for the entire family, or for just Mom & Dad, or for just Dad & son, and so on. That’s really powerful stuff. And instead of being a feature that’s given away for free, I’d argue that you’re now sitting on a paid premium feature which might even drive an extra $1-$10 (or, roughly, an extra 10%-120%) per month per account to your bottom line revenue.

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