Netflix friends

I just recently re-subscribed to Netflix. I was a member back around 99-2000. I enjoyed it at the time but then came TiVo. I couldn’t keep up with both so I bagged Netflix. Well, I’ve been getting frustrated with the lack of good quality TV, so I’ve thought about getting rid of television and the TiVo. In preparation, I thought let’s subscribe to Netflix again and see how I like it.

I wasn’t expecting any real innovation since I last subscribed. The site layout was OK. The recommendations terrible. Both have improved a bit. But I was pleasantly surprised with their Friends feature. Basically, it allows you to see what your friends are renting and rating. Nothing terrible innovative about that. But what impressed me is that with zero work on my part, aside from sending out a few email invites, my Friends tab was filled with really great relevant content. I hate doing work and most of the community web apps out there (Orkut, Yahoo 360, etc) require work to generate a rich community online experience. I experienced the opposite with Netflix. The other thing that makes Friends really work is that there’s a reason to participate in the community. My friends benefit from me rating movies and I benefit from them doing so. With the other community apps, there’s really no reason to participate after an initial startup period.

I had a couple of ideas to improve Netflix Friends some more:

  • Allow me to rate movies that my friends recently watched directly from the Friends page. Right now I have to clickthrough to a detail page. Lame.
  • Let me page through all the movies a friend has rated (by rating level). Ridiculous that I can’t do that.
  • Let me subscribe to my friend’s queues via RSS.
  • It would be cool to disagree with a friend. Like Erik rated Lawrence of Arabia two starts. What’s wrong with that kid? 🙂
  • This isn’t really a friends idea but it would be cool. I use Cin-o-matic to keep track of what movies in theaters I want to watch. It also alerts me when those movies come out on DVD (if I didn’t get a chance to see them). You have to wonder why Netflix hasn’t integrated with a movies type site yet. It would be another reason to return to the site. You really should be able to go to Netflix to manage your whole movie watching experience not just rentals. Adding new theater releases to your Netflix queue and have them automatically sent to you when they come out would be awesome.