Netflix to Axe Family-Friendly Profiles Feature

UPDATE: We heard back from Steve Swasey, Vice President, Corporate Communications for Netflix. Swasey explained that a "very, very, very small minority" of Netflix users actually use the Profiles feature. When we commented that he used the word "very" three times, he joked that a few more "very's" might actually be applicable. He would not comment, however, on what the actual percentage is of Netflix users who use Profiles. Swasey also pointed us to today's post on the Netflix Community Blog, where a Netflix product manager added the following salient comments: 

"Please know that the motivation is solely driven by keeping our service as simple and as easy to use as possible. Too many members found the feature difficult to understand and cumbersome, having to consistently log in and out of the website. 

Continuing to maintain the profiles feature for the passionate few who use it (including myself) distracts us from the mission of presenting to all our members the easiest way to find the best titles for them from the 100k plus on DVD and the 10k plus available instantly. 

We will do our best to find better ways for families to share accounts than the existing profiles feature and will continue to invest in improving the website experience in many different ways."

In our conversation, Swasey also pointed out that when Netflix first started, the founders of the company thought that their audience would be "tech savvy movie buffs" and "early adopters"; but instead Netflix users turn out to be mainstream consumers, who either didn't even know the Profiles feature even existed or who couldn't figure it out.

Swasey positions the decision to eliminate Profiles as a way to streamline resources and keep costs down. While eliminating the Profiles feature will impact a small minority of Netflix users, it would appear that these tech-savvy early adopters are also very vocal in their dissatisfaction with the elimination of the Profiles feature. As of when this update posted, there were 469 comments (and growing) on the Netflix product manger's blog from earlier today--and most of the comments appear to be from some unhappy campers.


A curious announcement went out to Netflix customers yesterday, informing them that Netflix Profiles will be eliminated as of September 1. Netflix Profiles allow customers to set up separate queues for a single account. The ability to set up separate queues has been a favorite feature of many couples and families who are Netflix customers, as it allows for an equitable distribution of movies from separate queues (depending on the particular subscription plan)--usually negating the necessity of having one person constantly juggling a single, bloated, ever-changing queue to accommodate the whims of multiple users on a single account. 

As to why Netflix is doing this, a FAQ on the Netflix site had little to say other than: "While it may be disappointing to see this feature go away, this change will help us to continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers." Call us sticklers, but we don't feel that statement actually answers the question. We have a query into Netflix, and as soon we have a response from Netflix, we will update this news post.

Will Netflix be rolling out a new feature that provides similar or even better functionality? Unlikely, because then the current separate profile queues would probably have merely just rolled over into the new tool automatically. The cynics among us postulate that this is Netflix's way of encouraging multi-user households into hosting separate accounts. While this is a possibility, we don't foresee many households actually choosing to create an additional account and incurring the additional membership fees just to avoid the headache of multi-user queue management. Whatever the reason, we will miss the Profiles feature, and will have to learn to live with eclectic queues that look something like this: