I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since September of 2008 – that’s nearly 3 years – and I’m a heavy user of the service. I actually use the streaming feature more, but I do the DVDs occasionally, as well (I’m horrible at remembering to return them). Thus far, I’ve rated over 200 movies, and I’ve spent quite a while telling the service my preferences, using the handy (if not a bit limiting) ‘Never, Sometimes, Often’ rating scoring system. I really thoroughly enjoy testing Netflix’s ability to recommend movies that I’ll really enjoy, so I use that feature the most.
Unfortunately, there’s one thing that Netflix absolutely sucks at – being social. By that I mean that the service makes no attempt whatsoever to allow me to connect to my friends. There is some rudimentary Facebook support, but it’s only used (as best I could tell) to share my ratings. It’s not enough, and it limits the fun of the service, especially in bringing the community feeling back to movies.
How Could Netflix Be More Social?
For starters, Netflix could offer me the ability to find friends of mine who are also using Netflix. Many other online services make it easy for me to connect my Google, Twitter, or Facebook accounts to see if I’ve already connected with someone there, and then let me add that person as a contact on the service. This is a great feature that I often use to quickly build a contact list on a new service.
There are a handful of reasons I might want to connect with others on a movie service such as Netflix. For starters, I’d like to see what movies my friends are watching, as well as what rating they gave the movie. Clearly if 5 of my friends watched a movie and all rated it 2 stars, I’d rather avoid that film, even if it would otherwise match my preferences or viewing habits. Likewise, if several of my friends gave a movie a 5 star rating, but the movie didn’t really match my preferences or viewing habits, I might like to check it out, since so many of my friends liked it.
With an established buddy list in Netflix, I could also recommend movies to my friends individually – services like GetGlue and GoMiso already allow me to ‘check-in’ to various media – such as a movie – and a contact list in Netflix could offer me a similar experience. With Netflix’s Stream Instantly service, I could be offered the chance to share my movie selection to Facebook/Twitter/etc. either at the beginning of the movie or at the end with just a click of the remote.
As it stands, Netflix is a complete island. The movies that it recommends are solely based on me and my past history. While this often results in some good recommendations, it’s entirely limited.