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Netflix Gives Household Members Their Own Library Cards

By Peter Suciu
Aug 2, 2013 11:20 AM PT

Targeting families and other multiviewer households, Netflix on Thursday introduced a new capability that makes it possible for each account to maintain individual profiles on the service complete with separate queues and personalized suggestions.

Netflix Gives Household Members Their Own Library Cards

Starting in the next few days, Netflix subscribers will be able to add up to five additional profiles to their accounts at no extra cost. Each person will get personalized suggestions based on what they watch and rate as well as separate Recently Watched and Instant Queue lists. Each person can also be connected to a different Facebook account for personalized suggestions from their friends.

"Now everyone in your home can have their own Netflix experience, built around the TV shows and movies they enjoy," said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. "No longer will your Netflix suggestions be mixed up with those of your kids, a significant other, roommates or house guests."

The new feature started rolling out globally on Thursday and will be available to all members within two weeks, Netflix said.

No More Mashups

"There are scenarios where kids might like to watch cartoons and other children's programming and you come home from work and want to get recommendations in dramas or comedies," Netflix spokesman Yoris Evers told the E-Commerce Times. "This solves that problem, as each profile now will get recommendations based specifically on that profile's viewing habits."

Rather than suggestions resulting from "a mashup of what everyone watched," each individual will now get their own, Evers added.

It's worth noting, though, that Netflix will still allow only two users to stream content on the same account at the same time, so the change won't actually increase the amount of viewing a household can do at the same time.

'All Over the Map'

"The big payoff of this move is for families," Greg Scoblete, video analyst for Digital Tech Consulting, told the E-Commerce Times. "Before now, Netflix derived its content recommendations on an account basis, so if multiple people used a single account, as families do, it could produce recommendations that were all over the map.

"By enabling a single account to create multiple profiles, you can help Netflix surface content that is better suited -- in theory -- to your tastes," Scoblete added.

In the longer run, the new feature could also help Netflix refine what content to carry. While the service regularly culls some offerings, profile-specific viewing data could help it determine if some offerings should be removed sooner rather than later.

"From Netflix's perspective," Schoblete observed, "it does them no good to have a large content library if no one can find relevant material."

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