Netflix officially launched its personalized profiles Thursday, rolling out the new feature to iOS devices, the Xbox 360 and the PS3 as well as the Netflix.com website and a number of connected devices, including the Apple TV.
The feature will allow Netflix subscribers to personalize a total of five profiles per account, which will each offer a separate queue and individual content recommendations. This means that parents will finally be able to separate the recommendations based on their kids’ viewing from their own.
Wii users will get access to the feature in mid-August, Netflix’s VP of product innovation Todd Yellin told me during a phone conversation this week. Android tablets and phones will get profiles by the end of the year.
Netflix first showed off profiles at CES in January, and has been thoroughly testing the feature since. Netflix’s director of product innovation Eddy Wu told me that some of those tests had to do with the onboarding process for new users, and the question how many options users should have during the setup of a profile. “We tried a couple of different variables there,” Wu said. In the end, Netflix decided to make things as simple as possible, because very descriptive and option-rich approaches just didn’t work. “Simple is better,” Wu said.
Netflix users will be able to choose from a few pre-selected avatars, or import their Facebook profile picture.
Part of that learning process was also to figure out how Netflix will deal with parental controls. The new profiles will make it even easier for kids to dive straight into the service’s just for kids area, but Yellin said that the company decided against completely locking down the kids area because it found that kids would always find away around these kinds of restrictions.
Yellin described Netflix’s approach of having a separate kids area without a lock as “a well-lit cul-de-sac” that makes it easy to find kids-appropriate content without restricting access. “We don’t put up any high fences,” he said.
Personalized profiles will be available to all Netflix users worldwide free of charge. Separately, the company introduced a family plan earlier this year, which gives users the ability to stream to up to four devices at the same time for $12 a month. Regular accounts are limited to two simultaneous streams.
For a demo of the new feature, check out Netflix’s video below: