Netflix Goes Social: Friends Facebook In New Deal
March 13, 2013

Netflix Goes Social: Friends Facebook In New Deal

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

If you have a streaming account with Netflix, your watch list is about to get a lot more social. A new deal with Facebook called Netflix Social will add your Facebook contact list to your Netflix account, which will show up on searches as "Watched By" and a few other mentions. New social features will be active by the end of the week.

When searching for movies and TV shows, you'll see new rows next to the listing that say "Watched by Your Friends," and "Friends' Favorites." Members automatically share what they watch within Netflix, but now there is a new option to share watch lists with Facebook as well.

"There are few better ways to find a movie or TV series you'll love than hearing about it from your friends," said Tom Willerer, vice president of product innovation at Netflix, in a company statement. "Facebook already makes it easy for our international members to connect with friends over TV shows and movies and we're thrilled to now bring this experience to our U.S. members."

The appearance on Facebook will be optional. Netflix members will get an option in Netflix to connect to Facebook. Opting in will mean sharing all activity. This will mean that viewed movies and TV shows will appear in the "Watched By“¦" on any device that streams from Netflix for any connected friends. The default setting shares user activity only on Netflix. Members can share to Facebook by changing their Netflix "Social Settings" on the Netflix website.

When conducting searches, users will be able to toggle between friends to view what movies and TV shows friends have watched, or 'Favorited.' Netflix has come up with a graphical display that merges the typical Netflix search with a Facebook interface of the friend 'Facepile' and other navigational features.

Netflix said its social features will evolve, and that new capabilities will be tested regularly. While sharing on Facebook currently means sharing all viewing activity, Netflix plans to test capabilities that allow members to explicitly share their favorite titles on Facebook, which opens a discussion with friends. "Oh, you finally caught up on Downton Abbey." Spoilers ensue.

"People naturally talk about TV shows and movies and love to share their experiences," said Willerer. "Through the Netflix/Facebook integration we want to let Netflix members express themselves on Facebook and provide a digital version of the proverbial water cooler."

It will be interesting to see if those posts will generate conversation, and whether it will bring more business to Netflix.

"Over the years, Netflix has deepened its Facebook integration to enable people to discover movies through friends and to share what they're watching," said Facebook director of platform partnerships and operations Justin Osofsky, in a Netflix company statement. "With their integration, Netflix has a new opportunity to reach the more than one billion people on Facebook. We look forward to Netflix continuing to integrate with Facebook and offering their community rich ways to discover movies and TV shows with their friends."

The relationship between Netflix and Facebook is new only in the US. Netflix has offered social features to its international members for over a year. It was not possible in the US until recently, when Congress updated a video sharing law earlier this year.