Unlike HBO’s terms of service, Netflix's terms allow for a “household” to share a single streaming video account. It doesn’t define exactly what qualifies as a household, but it specifies that up to six different devices can access the Netflix account, and only two devices can stream at the same time.
While this makes it easier and more legal for multiple people to share a Netflix account, it causes some other problems. When multiple members of a family share an account, it throws a monkey wrench into one of Netflix’s flagship features: the massive collection of data the site uses to give users extremely specific and accurate suggestions.
Netflix plans to address the issue this summer by introducing user profiles. The vice president of product innovation at Netflix showed Engadget how Netflix profiles will work on an iPad. When a user first loads the Netflix app, he or she is given a choice of different icons to use to represent different users. Pick one, and it will load the version of the Netflix account that's tailored to that individual user. In addition, parents can create profiles for kids that restrict content, similar to how parents currently use the Netflix Kids hub.
In other Netflix news, the site said it's using big data to shape its original shows, and that analytics were used for the writing, directing, casting and marketing of the successful Netflix original series "House of Cards." Using big data to shape original programming will be a major part of the Netflix strategy moving forward, and Netflix is collecting even more targeted data to help it identify users' preferences with increasing precision.
The new profile system looks fairly simple and easy to use -- so much so that it’s a bit surprising it took Netflix this long to introduce it. Regardless, families and roommates who split an account will likely find it useful.
Hopefully Netflix will be available to watch on the Xbox. I, for one, am sick of Netflix urging me to watch “Sex in the City” thanks to the taste of one of my roommates.