Netflix is making it easier for people to disentangle their personal viewing data: The streaming service is rolling out a new feature worldwide this week that will let users transfer all of their personalized viewing data to a new account.
Netflix is billing the feature as a way for people to keep their viewing data and personalized viewing recommendations even if they leave the original account holder’s household. “People move. Families grow. Relationships end. But throughout these life changes, your Netflix experience should stay the same,” wrote Netflix product manager Timi Kosztin in a blog post Monday.
The feature is being introduced at a time when Netflix would very much like some of its members to spin out their profiles into new accounts. The streaming service has seen its growth stall and even decline amid strong competition from services like HBO Max and Disney+.
Netflix is blaming some of its woes on subscribers who share accounts with friends and relatives; the company estimates that around 100 million households participate in account sharing. Netflix plans to crack down on this in 2023 and began testing a few ways of doing so in Latin America earlier this year.
As part of those trials, Netflix tried giving people in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru a way to take their profile data and transfer it to a new account. That was a hit with audiences, according to a spokesperson, resulting in Netflix now making it available globally. Until now, creators of new accounts have lost all access to their personalized data from previously shared accounts, including viewing history and suggestions.
Beyond Netflix’s challenges with account sharing, the new feature points to a growing importance of profiles and identity across the streaming landscape. Netflix was the first streaming service to launch individual profiles for family members almost a decade ago. Since then, most streaming services have adopted profile-based personalization.
Smart TV platforms like Google TV and Amazon’s Fire TV have gotten into the game as well, offering their users systemwide profiles. Netflix’s launch of profile portability is another first for the industry, and could lead to others building out their own profile-based streaming personalization.
Note: Protocol is owned by Axel Springer, whose CEO, Mathias Döpfner, is on the board of Netflix.