01 Jul 2008

Netflix Saves Profiles, Face

I was pleased to read today that Netflix has come to its collective senses and decided to save the “Profiles” feature. For those of you living under a rock, Profiles was a neat feature that Netflix offered, allowing you to essentially split your account into ‘sub-accounts’ each with their own queue and number of simultaneous movies. This was pretty nice if you had multiple people (say, family members, or you and a S.O.) sharing the same account.

Their elimination of the feature was ostensibly to simplify the website by removing a feature that few users actually took advantage of, but many felt it was done more to encourage the purchase of multiple accounts (which cost more than one account, even one with many movies at a time).

This is by any measurement a good thing. Netflix avoided doing something very stupid, and alienating its userbase (probably driving more than a few of them right into the arms of the competition, Blockbuster) by announcing its intentions, listening to the response, and then changing their tune when it became obvious they were about to shoot themselves in the foot. All good. This should be a lesson to others on how to craft policy that affects your users.

Unfortunately, they had already disabled access to the feature for most users, apparently in preparation for killing it outright. (Which is a bit of a drag for folks like me, who were holding out because they’d only heard of it as a result of the hubbub and didn’t want to try something that was on its way out.) But according to the official blog, the option to create new profiles will return in a couple of weeks. Here’s hoping.

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