It’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?