Netflix has always been about the household and not about the individual. But that is all about to change now that they're working on a widespread Facebook integration plan that will give rise to the personal Netflix account. Really, it makes sense for them to do it. After all, how many teens want to have their parents know exactly what they're watching? Or how much they're watching it for that matter.
"We're working on an extensive Facebook integration, which will further the notion of a personal Netflix account," Netflix said in a shareholder letter issued this week.
What does this mean for subscribers? Not much really. It will probably give us all easier ways to share what we are watching on Netflix which will work toward content discovery via the social interaction of telling others what you think of a show or film you got there. Since they've expanded their service away from just DVD-by-mail and now offer streaming accounts, consumption is taking place in a very different way. Where you really only needed one account per household in the past, now it's more personal and Netflix, being the forward-thinking team they are, understands this and is going to allow you to have a more personal interaction with the service.
Well done, I say! With the second coming of the Tablet PC everyone is going to have a more personal interaction with their streaming video I think. We'll all be carrying it around in our pockets on 7-inch tablets or watching it in cafes on our iPads. That ultimately means we all need to have a more personal approach to the content we have available from Netflix.
It also means we're far more likely to share what it is we're watching with others. If we're not afraid to watch it in public places, it means we won't be afraid to tell our friends lists what it is we're watching. I for one have no shame, on my recent 9 hour flight to the States from Europe, I watched the first two episodes of the new season of Californication. The people around me might have been shocked by the content, I could care less, I was too busy enjoying it. See, now I too have just shared with you what it is I'm watching lately.
"Our long-term goal is to evolve the Netflix service so that it feels more natural to have a personal account." Netflix
Netflix doesn't expect every household to break up into separate personal accounts, there are some, like my father and his wife, who really only need one. They're not forcing everyone into this whole social aspect. Instead they're supplementing the existing service, as I see it, so that those of us who might live with roommates or have teenage children in the house, can have a more personal interaction with the service.
Granted not many people think they want to share what they're watching with the world. A recent report showed only 25% of people were likely to do so. But think about it in reverse. Social interaction goes a long way to strengthening the viewer-show tie. Daisy Whitney stated that TV show engagement is up when coupled with social media. So that means that fans of the shows can have a closer connection to the stories and characters through social media. Considering that I have shed a tear when a beloved character was killed, yeah I'm a big softy, I can see how better engagement and closer ties to a show could be beneficial to that particular brand.
This might also be part of a larger business strategy for Netflix who is going to facing some potentially tough times ahead as it starts facing more and more competition (though Hulu might not be in that group, see my other article today) and have to renegotiate contracts with several content providers. It might be a way to create stronger ties with the end-users which it can then use as a leverage point with the content providers. If they can start giving hard numbers of actual viewers for certain content that might go a long way to getting the content providers to see just how vast Netflix reach and audience are for their content.