Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Netflix customers in U.S. get Facebook-sharing
First Published Mar 14 2013 10:44 am • Last Updated Mar 14 2013 10:44 am

SAN FRANCISCO • A long-awaited coming attraction has finally arrived for Netflix’s U.S. subscribers. They will now be able to automatically see what their Facebook friends have been watching on the Internet video service, as long as they are willing to open a peephole into their viewing habits, too.

The sharing tool announced Wednesday is rolling out 18 months after Netflix Inc. introduced the feature to its international subscribers.

At a glance

Netflix’s new Facebook-share option

WHAT SHOULD WE WATCH TONIGHT? » Netflix says its 27 million streaming video subscribers in the U.S. will now be able to see what their Facebook friends are watching — as long as they’re willing to share their viewing preferences too.

LEGAL BREAKTHROUGH » The sharing tool announced Wednesday follows a change to a U.S. law that had prevented the disclosure of video records without written consent. Netflix Inc. launched the Facebook-sharing option for its international customers 18 months ago.

DVDS EXCLUDED » Netflix isn’t offering the Facebook-sharing tool to the 8.2 million that subscribe to its steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail rental service.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The expansion exposes the feature to a much wider audience because Netflix has 27 million Internet video subscribers in the U.S. versus 6 million customers in more than 50 other countries and territories. Netflix isn’t creating an outlet for the 8.2 million subscribers to its steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail rental service to share what they’re checking out on discs.

Netflix withheld the sharing tool in the U.S.to avoid breaking a 1988 law that banned the disclosure of video rental records without a customer’s written consent. After several years of lobbying, the Lost Gatos, Calif., company persuaded Congress to revise the law so that subscribers could choose to activate a video-sharing feature.

President Obama signed the amended law in January, clearing the way for Netflix to offer U.S. subscribers another way to find movies and TV shows that may appeal to their tastes. In the process, Netflix hopes to deepen subscriber loyalty and generate positive buzz about the $8-per-month service as the company strives to reach its goal of reaching 90 million customers.

"This has been a missing link for us," said Tom Willerer, Netflix’s vice president of product innovation. "Being able to see more recommendations from your friends can be a very powerful thing."

Investors apparently believe the new feature will increase Netflix’s popularity and, by extension, its profits. Netflix shares stock surged by $10.25, or 5.6 percent, to close at $192.36.

The sharing tool could backfire if it raises privacy concerns as subscribers discover how much their Facebook friends are finding out about their viewing preferences.

Netflix is trying to make sure that happens by corralling the sharing within individual subscriber accounts when the feature is first turned on. The company plans to offer all its U.S. subscribers the option by the end of this week.

Once the sharing feature is activated, new rows labeled "Friends’ Favorites" and "Watched by your friends" will be displayed within a subscriber’s account. On the flip side, any subscriber who has signed up for Facebook sharing will have their movie selections displayed with the accounts of their Facebook friends unless an extra step is taken to exclude a specific movie or TV show. What subscribers are watching won’t be posted on Facebook’s social network unless they go into their setting to permit the sharing on that website, too.


story continues below
story continues below

Beside the general rows of recommendations, Netflix will also devote rows to the watching lists of up for five Facebook friends that the company’s computer formulas will select, based on an analysis of common interests. Netflix eventually hopes to allow subscribers to designate the Facebook friends whose video opinions that they like the most, Willerer said.

In households where multiple people share the same Netflix account, the sharing option will be tied to the Facebook account of the primary subscriber. Netflix is currently testing technology that allows several people using the same Netflix account to splinter into individual profiles that sorts their viewing histories into different queues. If the experiment is successful, Willerer said Netflix may add more ways to share video recommendations under the same account.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.