I like having Netflix. All things considered, they charge a fairly reasonable fee for what they provide. But there are a lot of things they could improve (and I suspect they don’t really care, since they make it impossible to e-mail them).
My big frustration is with their subaccounts. You can create a “profile” for each member of your household (well, assuming there are no more than four people in your household) wherein each person can give his or her own ratings, add movies to a separate DVD queue, and get personalized recommendations. The account owner has parental controls to restrict the subaccount holders from ordering DVDs above the rating the account owner has specified. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
It is, except it’s not very useful. A disproportionately large portion of Netflix’s streaming video catalog is for children, and I suspect that it is this detail which has made the service so popular. So why does Netflix not allow subaccounts to stream video or maintain a queue of streaming titles? This creates an unpleasant assortment of effects:
- When my kids want to watch Netflix, I have to log them in every time.
- If I set the parental controls for requiring a password for movies over a certain rating, I have to enter a password each time I watch something over that rating, even when I’m already logged in.
- Once I log the kids into my account, they will automatically (without even digging) see everything in my queue and everything I’ve watched recently.
- They have access to all of my account and billing information. I have good kids and I don’t expect trouble here, but not all parents can say that.
- The streaming video queue has to be shared by everyone. This means that everyone has to wade through everyone else’s movies to find their own selections.
- There’s no easy way for the kids to rate movies they watch or to pull up movie recommendations from their own accounts. To rate something, they have to log off my account and into their own account, search for the movie they just watched in my account, rate it, log off, and then get me to log them back into my account.
- Netflix has added a “top 10 recommended for you” section on the home page, but because my kids watch far, far more Netflix than I do, “my” recommendations are for Hannah Montana and Rugrats.
What on earth is Netflix thinking by not allowing family members to have their own streaming accounts? Oh, wait a second . . . I think I get it now. Netflix wants family members to have their own (read: “separately paid for”) streaming accounts.
Okay, forget what I said about them being reasonably priced. This is extortion.