New 'Netflix profiles' hope to improve recommendations

'Netflix profiles' introduces a way to let users set up five different viewer profiles from one account.

Mike Blake/Reuters/File
The Netflix logo is shown on an iPad. The company introduced a new feature that allows users to create different profiles under one account.

You like romantic comedies, your spouse likes action films, your 4-year old likes dancing ponies, and your Netflix account has no idea which movie to recommend.

That was until now.

The video streaming service announced a new feature: user profiles. Now Netflix subscribers can create as many as five different profiles within a single account. The company hopes to eliminate the sometimes-disjointed set of movie recommendations within one household.

The service can be set up either on or the Netflix app for PlayStation 3. Users can also link their Netflix profile with their Facebook account to connect with friends and check out what others are watching.

Even if you don’t have five family members who can use your account, Netflix suggests creating different profiles for different moods. The site's algorithms make recommendations for users based on most recently watched films – and for those viewers whose tastes oscillate, this can mean off-target recommendations.

Netflix collects a huge store of data – including time and place of viewing – from more than 25 million users, according to Gigaom.

Introducing the new profile feature is part of Netflix’s effort to stay on top in the TV streaming game. With competitors like Hulu Plus and Amazon’s Instant Video, Netflix needed to find a way to combat user “churn” (the number of people who sign up and then quit paying the $7.99 monthly fee when they feel as if the service is no longer valuable), says Mike McGuire, a vice president at research firm Gartner, in an interview with The Huffington Post.

In an interview with USA Today, Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said the plan is something that “will generate more happiness” from customers, and “that will lead to faster growth and a bigger business overall." 

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