Netflix to eliminate profiles, instigate roommate feuds

The rental-by-mail service is eliminating a feature that allows a single account to be split into separate profiles for family members or housemates. At least some members aren't happy.

For the past two years, my roommate and I have split a Netflix user account, mostly so that I don't have to deal with his trashy action-movie picks mucking up my queue of navel-gazing Wes Anderson knockoffs, and so that we can ensure a clean split in our four-at-a-time subscription. He'd totally hog it otherwise.

But starting on September 1, we're going to have to suck it up. The rental-by-mail service announced on its blog on Thursday that it would be doing away with separate user profiles on the same account.

The reason, the post explained, is that it's a little-used feature that some people found complicated: only a percent of Netflix members use it. "We will do our best to find better ways for families to share accounts than the existing profiles feature," it read, "and will continue to invest in improving the Web site experience in many different ways."

So maybe a new kind of split-household account is on the way, but for now, my roommate and I are going to have to either share a password (which could raise security concerns for some people) or pay for two separate accounts (which will cost more for both of us). Customized recommendations will be directed to both of us rather than our individual accounts, which means--eek!--that I'm going to see Meet the Spartans recommended to me instead of Flight of the Conchords.

Lousy move, Netflix.

A thread on feedback forum Get Satisfaction revealed that other people aren't too happy either. Some raised concerns that they could no longer operate separate queues with parental controls for their children, and others expressed plights similar to mine--they share accounts with roommates or housemates who have vastly different cinematic tastes.

"Way to go, Netflix, I'll just be canceling the service at this point," one user wrote. "I specifically upgraded to the four-at-a-time service to split out the queues for my wife and myself. I'm not going to pay for another separate account."

And if you've been using separate Netflix profiles as a way to cloak your porn habit (or chick-flick habit) from your spouse, get ready. You'll have some explaining to do come September.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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