Netflix Adds Facebook Connect, Personalization

It's pretty amazing, really. While Blockbuster has withered as the world shifted from in-store DVD rentals to by-mail rentals and now to streaming rentals, Netflix has managed to keep itself relevant by staying one step ahead of the curve. Rather than pushing out its own proprietary "Netflix box," it instead created software and an API that could bring Watch Instantly functionality to a whole slew of devices already in the home -- pure brilliance, we say.

The mega-successful rental company is making intelligent decisions once more, this time by adding integration to Facebook Connect and launching a new slate of nifty personalization features. On the former, the Facebook Connect tie-in enables Netflix members to share ratings with friends right on one's Facebook profile, giving them the option to chat about film likes and dislikes and possibly even stumble onto recommendations from pals in the process.

As for the latter, Netflix has just rolled out a swath of new features that put an "emphasis on movie discovery." The individual features are listed and detailed below, and the company has already vowed to "rapidly iterate and improve on what we launch -- particularly on the ability to mix and match categories to improve on the personalized genres we offer." Anyone checked out any of the new functionality? Digging it? Couldn't care less?

The features include:

Taste Preferences: The ability to set taste preferences across a variety of moods (e.g. feel-good, dark, goofy, gritty, etc.); storylines (e.g. courtroom, dinosaurs, mid-life crisis, etc.); qualities (e.g. critically-acclaimed, visually-striking, etc.); and other category types, on a new, easier, three button system.

More Personalized Homepages: New site and watch instantly homepages that reflect both a member’s expressed taste preferences and recent activity (rentals, instant watching, queue adds and ratings). This results in a regularly refreshed set of personalized genres that combine various categories a user has shown an interest in (e.g. Feel-good Romantic Comedies, Biographical Sports Dramas, Critically-acclaimed Crime Thrillers, etc.). These are chosen for each member from thousands of possibilities.

Some of the rows will be based on what the member explicitly sets. Others will be based on a member’s recent activity.

Customized Browsing: When members click on any of their specially chosen personalized genres they’ll not only see relevant movies/TV shows, but also a way to mix and match other categories to create new combinations. Members find this to be a particularly good way to explore titles that are available to watch instantly.