Blog Post

Exclusive: A first look at Netflix’s test of personalized profiles

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Netflix (s NFLX) recently started to test personalized profiles with a limited subset of its subscribers, allowing them to create a separate profile for each member of their family. The company has talked about eventually doing this for some time, but kept quiet on details – until now. We were able to snap some exclusive photos of one of the iterations currently tested at the 2013 CES in Las Vegas.

But first, it’s worth pointing out a few things: The test is ongoing, and could take as long as six months, after which the company will evaluate whether it resulted in increased viewing and engagement times. If things work out, this is going to be rolled out to Netflix’s entire user base as an added feature set.

Also, Netflix typically tests a number of iterations with separate groups, which means that there are other implementations out there. And the final result could look very different from what you get to see here:

The test version showed separate viewing histories and recommendations for each profile. Users are able to fine-tune their profile by telling Netflix about their movie preferences, and profiles for kids under 12 are automatically based on the service’s Just for Kids UI. In addition, parents are able to restrict the type of content displayed on a kids profile based on movie ratings.

Netflix is typically testing these kinds of things on PC-based browsers as well as Sony’s (s SNE) PS3 first. I got to see a browser-based version, and don’t know if there’s also a PS3 implementation currently being tested.

I didn’t have a chance to play with the test too long, but I know that I’d like to see this come to my Netflix account sooner than later: As a parent, I often find all my movie recommendations dominated by kids titles – and as much as I like my kids, there are days when I want to watch other things than My Little Pony and Dragon Tales.

22 Responses to “Exclusive: A first look at Netflix’s test of personalized profiles”

  1. rating helps some, i know this because i share my account with a roommate with very different tastes, and i do still get recs based on what she watches, but since i’m the only one currently rating things, most of the recs lean towards what i watch anyway. still i’d like to see multiple profiles because she’d benefit from seeing recs that are meant for her and not me. she feels like there’s no selection while i find plenty of new things to watch. i can’t help but feel a personalized profile would change her opinion.

  2. Why it it taking so long to restart this, Netflix had it over five years ago? They stopped it in 2008!!!! Not sure what the hold up is for this every so simple fix.

  3. guitzilla

    If I could just set a password on these profiles and then be able to log into a different profile on the device (WII, xbox, mobile device etc.) and be able to switch profiles only if logged in as the main account holder that would solve the problem for me. Right now there is no way to log in on the devices as the profile so the kids get my selections (or more often I get only theirs!). Seems like a simple addition/development effort that would solve the issue.

  4. Netflix can’t get the DVD profiles to work, it’s been “temporarily unavailable” for almost a year now!!!!
    What makes you all think that these will work!
    Canceling my account and getting Amazon Prime!

    • I got Amazon Prime too. It sucks too. I like the idea be it long overdue or not. The one thing I am not reading here is that there will be a way to lock kids out of parents profiles. Just having separate kids profiles and loading them with age appropriate content does not keep a kid from selecting dads profile and being able to see anything at that point. There is a netflix kids currently but no password protection for the full side of the site so kids can just select either one.

  5. Kevin Pierce

    Awesome, Netflix, I can create a “Kids” profile.

    Now do this too:
    – Let me choose a default profile.
    – Let me time limit the default profile.
    – Let me limit the content that profile has accessible
    – Enforce profile, time and content limits across devices (iPad Bluray player PC)
    – Let me PIN protect other profile(s) on the same account.

    THEN I will have some true parental controls.

      • Ryan J.

        Silly people who think that wanting some parental controls makes you a bad parent. Some parents want parental controls, others don’t. Okay, that’s what parenting is all about. Each parent tries to decide what’s best for each of their children. Cars have seat belts and some parents may require their kids to use them, and others may not. Is it really all that offensive to have parental controls so that parents can choose to use them (or not)?

  6. There’s definitely a need for this – we hear this constantly at Plizy. People need a good way to get recommendations but they’re giving/getting messed up signals!

  7. Palmcroft

    The lack of profiles is a real watchability problem for families. Our queue is crammed full with movies only my 13-year old would watch.

    Why the delay? The additions of profiles merely corrects an obvious flaw.

    Typical Netflix: sucky selection, sucky interface, zero original thinking.

    • Ender Wiggin Ksc

      some devices have already gotten a “kid friendly” profile, i know it’s there on Wii and xbox.

      Wish they’d at least get that pushed out to roku’s in the near future, individual profiles are great, but i ain’t holding my breath.

    • Greg Scott

      This point needs to be emphasized. After Jr is in bed and we get a chance to watch something we want.. sorting through Thomas and Friends and Yo Gabba Gabb does not make picking a movie -we- would want to watch any easier.

      Sign me up for the beta, I wouldn’t even care if this feature works well, just get me in the program!