Netflix is rolling out a much-requested feature that should please users with kids and those who share their account with others.
And the video streaming company is teasing that the feature most often demanded by Canadian users is coming soon.
On Thursday, Netflix began officially rolling out the ability to create multiple profiles for a single account, a feature that many users have been asking for since the streaming service launched in Canada in September, 2010.
"[The recommendation engine] suffers from a challenge, which is most Netflix members have several members of their household that use Netflix independently and so your personal view of Netflix might be cluttered by Shaun the Sheep and other similar titles that maybe your kids have been watching in the last few days," said Netflix's chief product officer Neil Hunt.
"The problem we've sought to solve here is: 'My home screen is cluttered up with stuff I'm not interested in and enough with the kids stuff already!' And I think we've done a decent job of making it one click to be able to segment that into a different space."
Users will be able to create as many as five different profiles and choose which to access every time they log in.
Setting up profiles is optional and users don't have to abandon their current viewing history if they're happy with the recommendations they're receiving. But Hunt noted that recommendations are largely based on recent viewing habits so users shouldn't be afraid of starting fresh.
"The large share of the personalization is dependent upon the behaviour in the last 30 days so rather quickly we'll resolve toward learning you again," he said.
"If you're the main user and it's got a pretty good idea [of you] then you can kick your kids out into a separate profile … and it gets an even better idea of who you are – but you don't have to start yours over from scratch."
The official roll out began Thursday across all of Netflix's global regions, although some users had access to the profiles feature earlier. A small subset of Netflix subscribers were testing the feature before it went public and it popped up for some Apple TV users on Tuesday. It might take two weeks until all users get the update at Netflix's website, on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, on smart TVs and Apple iOS devices. Some devices will take longer to receive the profiles feature, including the Nintendo Wii (which is expected to be updated some time next month) and Android phones and tablets (coming in the fall).
Netflix is also targeting a summer release for a feature that is currently being called My List, which will allow users to save titles to watch later. It's based on the Queue feature already available in the U.S., which is being tweaked for a global release under the new moniker.
Hunt acknowledged Canadian users have been demanding the feature for some time but said it hasn't landed here yet because statistics revealed U.S. users don't really use it. They save titles to watch later but never get around to them.
"It tends to accrete titles that you want to watch but you never want to watch right now. And those titles sit right there at the top of the home screen distracting you from stuff that might actually be interesting," Hunt said.
"And so we've been working hard on a new variation of the Queue which we hope and expect to bring to customers all around the world later this summer. …We'll probably call it My List and you'll be able to build your own list within your own profile."