Since I signed onto Netflix' streaming service three years ago, I've struggled mightily with two categories that show up on Netflix' menu pages: “Recently Viewed” and “Top 10 for George,” mainly because they do not exactly match up with my actual viewing habits. The accuracy of these menus is thrown off by the fact that the biggest Netflix power user in my household is eight years old.
Because of my son's taste and viewing schedule, it looks like this adult man watches a whole lot of “The Walking Dead,” “The League,” “The Fall” and “Arrested Development,” but much more of “Phineas and Ferb.” As a result, Netflix recommends that I check out Disney Channel series such as “Good Luck Charlie” and “Wizards of Waverly Place” as well as “Archer,” “Prime Suspect,” “The Inbetweeners” and “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” In Netflix' cyber-eyes, I am a big fan of both grisly dramas and Bridgit Mendler, wry adult comedy and “Curious George,” so either someone is throwing off the curve in my house or my viewing tastes are extremely eclectic and potentially creepy.
But this summer, Netflix will begin rolling out user profiles, which will allow individual members on one account to log in and see results that more closely reflect their individual viewing habits. At this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Todd Yellin, of Netflix, demoed a prototype of a new interface for the electronics blog Engadget. It opens with a splash page featuring icons for each user on the account, allowing individuals to access shows that reflect his or her viewing habits rather than a spouse's, children or parents' tastes. It will also allow for content locking based on age, so my son will only get the “Just for Kids” hub and cannot access “Breaking Bad” until he's good and ready.
The company can get a much more complete and specific view of its customer base by getting a bead on the individuals in a household. Their data will show who is watching what rather than an amorphous account with all kinds of scattershot, disconnected viewing going on.
This might seem a little Big Brotherly of Netflix, but honestly, I'd rather report my viewing more clearly and get reasonably correct suggestions instead of the weirdness that currently pops up on my opening page. I don't want my son's first choice in the “Recently Viewed” category to be the excellent and deeply unsettling BBC series “The Fall” or “Top of the Lake” until he's got his own account.
Do I watch “Phineas and Ferb”? Yes — yes I do. But I'm not the one choosing it, Netflix.