As Facebook Rolls Out Timeline, Netflix Inches Closer To U.S. Sharing Deal


Credit: Facebook

Two more advances for Facebook in its ongoing quest to make its service ever more sticky and useful for its 800 million-plus base of subscribers: the company has officially started to roll out its Timeline feature, and it looks like Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) has moved one step closer to getting its sharing app approved to run on the site — a service that had been held up by a video privacy law in the U.S.

Originally announced in September, the Timeline has been so popular that over one million people have signed up to the developer beta to access the product, according to a blog post from product manager Samuel Lessin.

Now the service is getting a more formal public showing, starting with the digitally forward country of New Zealand before rolling it out “more broadly in the near future.”

Facebook’s Timeline feature is a new interface that will let you offer friends a curated view of your life, with specified photos, posts, apps and other Facebook content laid out in a more graphically engaging way. The idea here is to create another way of flagging to friends what you are consuming and doing in a way that they might not otherwise see in their activity streams, where items can drop off quickly if users have a lot of active Facebook friends.

Along with the Timeline changes, Facebook in September also began to add a number of new content partners to its platform, as part of its move to transform it into a media hub.

However, one company that had to stay away, in the U.S. at least, has been Netflix: a 1988 law, the Video Privacy Protection Act, prohibited the company from sharing its users’ video playlists on the site, unless Netflix got specific approval for each video. (Netflix has been able to roll out its Facebook app in other markets where it operates like Canada and Latin America.) This has been a thorn in Netflix’s side and the company has been hard at work airing its arguments for why it should be able to share that data.

As of this week, that act appears to be one step closer to getting repealed. According to this report from the AP, the House has approved an update that would allow Netflix to share the data as long as it got a customer’s blanket consent, which it could get online with a simple click.

The bill is now going to the Senate for approval.

Getting the Netflix app to work on Facebook would not just be a boost for Facebook, but for Netflix, too, which, at 24 million subscribers, is one of the biggest streaming sites in the country, but needs all the streaming service recommendations it can get. The company is facing an uphill battle for profitability at a time when media companies are demanding big fees to stream their content and many competitors are wading into the streaming waters with video offers of their own.

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