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Netflix Working on Multiple-user Access

16 Jan, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix reportedly isworking on allowing multiple users in a household to access Netflix streaming through one account.

Chief product officer Neil Hunt — point man to the company’s streaming service launch in the United Kingdom and Ireland — said Netflix is working on a scenario that could eliminate the current need for multiple accounts in one household.

In addition to issues of piracy and illegal access, an underlying concern for Netflix is the fact that enabling multiple users to access one account would undermine the service’s vaunted recommendation software. The technology, for which Netflix awarded a $1 million prize to a team of computer scientists in 2009 for besting by 10% its own algorithm for predicting subscriber ratings on films and TV shows, could be rendered moot by the rental habits of several users logged onto one account.

As a result, Hunt said the idea would be for multiple users in one household to access a single Netflix streaming account via their respective Facebook accounts.

“Then you can kind of say 'OK, I'm Kate. These are my signals or inputs [ratings and preferences]',” Hunt told Techradar.com in a recent interview.  “And maybe when you launch the thing it says, 'Are you "Kate" or are you "boyfriend"?' And you choose and you get your personal presentation.”

Hunt said Netflix has just begun scraping the surface of personalization and social media as it relates to subscriber habits. That research, in part, is what has endured Netflix to maintain the strategy that SVOD is the company’s future. The executive said changes to the current single-user accounts still are a ways off.

“But the fact that most of these user interfaces are essentially delivered in HTML, even to the smart TVs and games consoles, means that we continue to extend week by week, month by month, to deliver new features, to deliver new capabilities and we have goals and ambitions for that kind of stuff,” Hunt said.

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