Netflix brings out new ‘Profiles’ feature for multiple users on same subscription

1 Aug 2013

Internet TV network Netflix has introduced a new ‘Profiles’ feature that lets up to five individual profiles be created on the same household Netflix account. Each profile will have algorithms that learn their viewing habits and favourite programmes and genres.

This is one of those features I wish Netflix had introduced ages ago when it linked with Facebook to put what you just viewed out into your News Feed. While this is great for showing your friends what you just watched and what they are watching, it can be a little embarrassing.  For example my fiancée watches programmes like ‘Charmed’ or ‘Diary of a Teen Mom’ which informs my Facebook friends these are my choices, which they are not. Definitely not.

Anyway while I was expressing was my reason for being delighted at the new Profiles function, Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt told that the real driver behind the decision is to facilitate new users coming onto the Netflix platform and allow greater personalization.

“Your example is mainstream, but probably the second most important reason we are doing this. The primary driver is giving greater prominence to the right 20 or 30 titles you see on the Netflix home screen that is tailored for you. Three quarters of everything that people watch in terms of recommendations is based on tastes, searches and viewing habits so we wanted to put the right choices for what people are watching and the reality is that more than one person uses the one Netflix account.”

The new system means that starting today Netflix members can create a separate “profile” for each member of their household and up to five profiles can be created in accounts based on the basic subscription price.

Eddie Wu, director of product innovation at Netflix explained that the Profiles can only be set up within a web browser on your PC or via a PlayStation 3 device.

However once set up, the profiles can be viewed and accessed on most devices that support Netflix, including iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and smartphones, Apple TV and most smart TVs. Additional devices will be added over the coming months.

“The real beneficiaries of the new Profiles feature will most likely be people setting up Netflix for the first time and new members will be prompted on sign-up to add family members and assign nicknames for the people using the profiles.

“We learned through testing that we need to continuously make it incredibly simple to engage with profiles and simplicity is the key to high engagement,” Wu explained.

Profiles start rolling out globally today (1August) and will be available to all members within the next two weeks.

Hunt added: “From a technology point of view there are two things that really matter here: can we get you the right content at the right time and in the right quality and help our views discover the things they are interested in.

“Our goal is to have thousands of titles of interest to every one within reach to them, but not having them spend hours finding content or watching stuff that doesn’t interest them.

“We are constantly working on innovation to ensure that people can discover and find the right things to watch.

“Profiles is a way to give each member, separately, a fundamentally good experience.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years