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Summary:

Families could soon be able to add multiple users profiles to their Netflix accounts, according to statements published by the company. Netflix is also thinking about allowing simultaneous streams to multiple devices and shifting its general focus from targeting household towards targeting individual subscribers.

Those days of watching hours of Netflix together may soon end.

Netflix will introduce additional streaming plans later this year that will offer the ability to stream to multiple devices simultaneously, according to a FAQ for investors published on the company’s website. Details are still to be determined, but the offering could look like a cell phone family plan, with an option to add additional accounts at a lower price point. From the FAQ:

“One option would be to allow an account to add additional concurrent streams (using the analogy of our DVD business, it would be like choosing a higher-priced plan that allows a subscriber to have more DVDs at home)… Or it could be that there is a price point that would encourage multiple accounts in one household.”

Netflix currently allows its streaming-only customers to watch one stream at a time. Customers that have a higher-priced DVD plan can access more than one stream simultaneously. For example, if you pay to have access to three DVDs at a time, you are also able to watch three streams simultaneously.

Offering tiered streaming-only plans makes sense for multiple-family households, but it also helps Netflix to tap into additional revenue opportunities. The investor FAQ mentions the new plans as part of a larger shift toward targeting individual subscribers as opposed to households. This way of thinking opens up a much bigger market opportunity for the company: “We believe there may be an opportunity to change our focus from a household relationship to an individual relationship, since streaming is viewed on personal devices, such as phones, tablets, and laptops, as well as on shared large screen televisions,” the FAQ reads.

The phone and tablet focus especially opens up a whole new slew of additional customers. There are currently about 70 million broadband households in the U.S., but more than 300 million wireless subscriber connections – and the majority of those cell phone subscribers will own smart phones by the end of this year, according to Nielsen.

Family plans with separate profiles for each family member could also help Netflix make better use of its recommendation engine, leveraging its upcoming integration with Facebook. Netflix is reportedly working on a deep integration of the social network, making it possible to connect your Netflix and your Facebook account and share your Netflix viewing choices with your Facebook friends — something you might be more comfortable with if the questionable choices of your offspring don’t show up in your Facebook news stream.

Finally, there’s the issue of account sharing. Some members have reported in the past that they can access more than one stream even with basic plans, and we’ve heard from a few users who share accounts with their friends or extended family. Netflix hasn’t done much to crack down on this behavior, and a new family plan could actually help to convince people to go legit without adding additional restrictions that could turn off honest users.

Would you pay more to access multiple Netflix streams simultaneously and possibly have separate profiles for each family member? Let us know in the comments!

  1. I have the streaming-only plan and I can already do this.

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  2. sounds like you won’t be for long, D.

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  3. How sad — everyone in rooms by themselves watching different movies on small screens. Why not watch together…

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    1. Not really. For example, I work from home and I like to keep some kind of TV show running as background noise and to give me continuity. My 11-yr old watches movies on his Xbox 360 at the same time, and my wife may be watching a movie off her laptop. They are in the living room, my home office is in what should be the dining room, most of the times we have direct line of sight to all three of us.

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    2. The days of the whole family getting around the TV at nite is long gone. My kids dont even watch to much TV. Its all about texting, Facebook, IM and watching funny Youtube videos.

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  4. Yeah, this ability already exists, so it sounds like Netflix is going to take something away and then sell it back to us.

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  5. Speakthetruthasyouseeir Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Agreed. This seems like a desperate attempt to milk more money from customers from what is already being offered.

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  6. “Would you pay more to access multiple Netflix streams simultaneously and possibly have separate profiles for each family member?”

    Simply put… No.

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  7. Article is dead wrong. A single streaming account is allowed access to six unique authorized devices. At any given time there’s up to three of us in my house watching Netflix at the same time, from Xbox 360 consoles, one Roku HD and at least one laptop. Our only constraint is networking, not Netflix.

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    1. Pedro, the number of authorized devices doesn’t have anything to do with the number of simultaneous streams. From the Netflix website:

      “If you are on the Watch Instantly Unlimited plan or the 1-disc-out-at-a-time plan, you may watch only one device at a time. If you are on the 2-discs-out-at-a-time plan, you may watch on up to two devices at a time. Members on the 3-disc plan can watch on up to three devices. The maximum is four devices — available for members on the 4-or-greater-discs-out-at-a-time plan.”

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      1. That may be what their terms state, but that is not how they have operated since device streaming started. We are on a no-DVD plan, we consistently watch from up to three devices simultaneously. Unless their writing is simply poorly worded and it means you can only watch one show in one device at a time, which is correct.

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  8. Sounds like they’ve reached market saturation and now they are trying to figure out how to squeeze more monies out of the customers they have.

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  9. I would pay a little extra if I could have separate streaming queues for family members. Right now, I have a 3-discs-out plan and I have it separated into 3 different queues: one for my husband, one for me, and one for the kids. However the streaming queue only applies to the main account holder. I would like the kids to have their own streaming queue so I don’t have to wade through all their movies to find mine.

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    1. “would like the kids to have their own streaming queue so I don’t have to wade through all their movies to find mine”

      @Dani: Depending on the age of your children, try Ameba. (amebatv.com) It’s a multi-platform streaming service devoted just for kids. Every child has their own queue and parents don’t have to worry about them stumbling upon inappropriate content.

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  10. Before this, Netflix should fix clean up content ratings so there isn’t so much children’s/family content tagged as unrated. This means that if I use the stricter setting of the family content controls for the Xbox 360 my child will be blocked from a lot of harmless content simply because it lacks a rating. What’s the point of selling the service as enhanced for family usage if content ratings don’t work with the platform?

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    1. It’s a great service, but they need to fix their InstantStream UIs.
      It’s impossible to browse through all their available programming because the program guide is so clumsy, and there’s no search function if you’re looking for something specific to see if they have it.

      Making people get up and go to their PCs and set up their instant Stream queue in advance is, frankly, ridiculous.

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