On Thursday morning Netflix officially announced the launch of user profiles, which will allow subscribers to make separate, individual profiles within a single account for up to five different people. The profiles are designed to help Netflix deliver better recommendations to each person using a shared account; they will also let each user create his or her own Instant Queue when using Netflix, a long-requested feature among those sharing the service.
Profiles will start rolling out today, and you can sign up for profiles either on Netflix.com or on the Netflix app for PlayStation 3. You will be able to use Profiles immediately on the Netflix website, PlayStation 3, iOS devices, smart TVs and the Xbox 360. Other devices will see Profiles "over the coming months," according to a press release from Netflix.
Though post-college buddies who piggyback on a friend's parent's Netflix account will probably be thrilled by the news, the Profiles functionality is primarily aimed at families, according to Netflix Chief Product Office Neil Hunt, and delivering personalized recommendations to each member of that family based on his or her specific viewing habits.
"About 3/4 of everything people watch on Netflix, the recommendation engine plays some role in helping them discover that content," Hunt said in an interview. "The challenge we have is that most Netflix members are families with several individuals and the tastes and interests of those individuals can differ substantially."
"What we've sought to do with Profiles is separate the experience from the kids, from each spouse, from anyone else who's living in the household, and provide a different set of recommendations for each individual based on what that individual has watched and enjoyed, what that individual has rated, what genres and categories that individual prefers."
Netflix Profiles is quite simple to use in practice. You give a name and an avatar to each different member of your family, and then on subsequent visits Netflix will ask which person is watching before you start flipping around the catalogue. Based on each watcher's activity and star ratings, Netflix's vaunted recommendation engine begins to generate title recommendations for each member. Previously, families or friends who were sharing accounts often received confused or unwanted recommendations, since spouses tend to have different tastes in movies and television shows from each other, not to mention their children.
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