Netflix Makes The Moves Towards User Profiles
June 13, 2013

Netflix To Launch User Profiles For Families And Couples

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

There was once a time when families would sit together around the television set in the living room and enjoy their favorite programs. This is why the 8pm block of programming is typically called the “family hour,” and while families have become more “on the go,” more about “time shifting” and less watching together, families do still enjoy a lot of TV.

It just isn´t on the set in the living room either, as streaming has allowed for second and even third screens to take over.

With so much content these days there is a lot to view, and each program watched via services such as Netflix results in recommendations for other families. The problem has been that often times the recommendations are tailored to the family unit not the respective members of said family.

To make the recommendation process a little easier and more streamlined, Netflix on Wednesday announced a new profile option for families and couples. Different viewers will no longer have to endure recommendations based on what another family member may have watched. In other words no more recommendations based on the action films your husband/boyfriend watched or the “chick flicks” your wife/girlfriend watched. Instead, the recommendations are tailored to a specific user of the account.

Netflix will soon allow subscribers to set multiple user profiles for a single account, and this added functionality will be introduced later this summer. Jason Gilbert of Yahoo News reports that this is now in testing but is expected to launch by the end of August. The service is expected to offer either five or six different user profiles per account.

“It´s the revolution of TV,” Netflix VP of product innovation Todd Yellin told Sean Buckley of Engadget this week. “They used to send out a TV show and then they'd have no freaking idea who was watching it, how much they were watching ... it was just Nielsen diaries.”

The streaming video service´s data engine will thus be able to offer recommendations tailored to family members or even roommates sharing a single Netflix subscription. The prototype of the service was demonstrated at this week´s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show in Los Angeles.

“You and your wife might have very different tastes,” Yellin added. “Why can't you have a profile, and she has a profile?”

This new interface that was shown at E3 featured a start screen that offers different avatars for different members of a single family. However this look and feel could still evolve by the time the service launches later this year.

One key to this new multiple profiles is that it is still just about the film recommendations, and won´t actually allow for roommates, families and couples to actually stream additional multiple content offerings at the same time. Netflix will reportedly only allow only two users to stream on the same account at the same time, and it doesn´t appear that this aspect of the streaming service will change.

Netflix is also working on a remote control feature that could allow users to take command of their home theater via a Netflix app for Apple´s iOS or Google´s Android mobile platforms. This would work through a home network´s Wi-Fi connection.

Gilbert also reports that Netflix, as well as YouTube, are trying to convince TV makers to implement a technological stand for this to be universal in all new TVs. Unlike the profile service that won´t arrive this summer — as standards across TV makers could take between two to five years.