Netflix Pulls the Plug on Social Network

Filed as News on September 5, 2010 9:18 pm

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Netflix Community Features DisabledIt’s been long time coming, since Netflix hammered the first nail in the coffin of the social networking features of their site this past spring. But Friday the end became reality as the doors closed definitively on Netflix community features.

The move comes just days after Apple launched its new product-based social networking service Ping in iTunes. Now Netflix admits the community aspects of their site were hardly used and their engineering resources would be better spent devoted to developing aspects of the site that are highly popular – such as video streaming. Whether Netflix’s poor experience blending products, services, and social interaction will bode unwell for Ping remains to be seen.

Netflix’s community features allowed users to recommend films and TV shows to one another, follow their friends’ activities and reviews, and even view each other’s rental and streaming queues. The latter was an unpopular feature for many who didn’t want their more questionable tastes to be exposed to other users. (Ping also offers this feature; the ability to display your purchases and favorites to others is optional.)

Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communications for Netflix, explained to Investor’s Business Daily simply that social networking on Netflix “was a feature that never really took off”.

There does appear to be backlash within the Netflix user base. Interestingly, the error message one receives when attempting to access community features explains that most community features have been disabled. (Access to and editing your own profile and reviews remain.) Could be it they will reinstate the features that users complain about losing the most?

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  1. By David Perdew posted on September 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm
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    Not likely, in my opinion. This move is justified for a service that has a distinct commercial offering, and knows when to stick to what “works” for them. I applaud the move, since (as you say) their resources can now (and should) be spent developing their core product offering to the millions of customers they serve.

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  2. By Josh Howell posted on September 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm
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    I personally don’t like the move. If the site wasn’t so hard to navigate at times and finding people etc I think it would have taken off actually. You had to actively seek it out. I know I wasn’t aware of it till a friend of mine specifically told me about it.

    After that I used it and recommending things and sharing what you like was to me worth it. I appreciate them taking those resources and adding it back to their core network of what they are mainly all about.

    I just don’t see as the resources needed to run a limited social recommendation system to be all that much in the resource department to begin with.

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  3. By seth posted on September 23, 2010 at 5:59 am
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    I was netflix friends with someone on the east coast (i live on the west) and now i have no idea how to find them. this sucks balls. i hated netflix community before because i couldn’t customize things to my preferences; now i hate netflix community because they took away my little boston buddy that i had so much in common with. God damn you, Netflix! I hate you!

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