People

Netflix will start emailing parents, but it still doesn’t want to police screen time

Starting this week, the company will email parents viewing recommendations, coloring sheets and more.

Screenshot of email Netflix is sending to parents

Netflix's new email digest tells parents about the shows their kids have been watching.

Image: Netflix

Netflix wants to tell parents more about their kids' viewing habits: The streaming service is launching a biweekly email with content insights and suggestions. The company is also adding its Top 10 lists to kids profiles to give children additional viewing recommendations.

The rollout of these new features makes a lot of sense for Netflix, as children's entertainment has long been popular on the service. Family living rooms are also increasingly becoming a key battleground in the global streaming wars, as services like Disney+ attract tens of millions of subscribers with kid-friendly fare.

In this context, Netflix's new emails to parents are especially remarkable for what they are not: The fortnightly digests don't highlight total viewing hours, and aren't really meant as a report card to police the subject matter kids are interested in. Instead, the emails put a bigger emphasis on creating shared family time.

That was a direct result of conversations Netflix's kids and family team had with parents and their children, said Netflix's director of product innovation, Jennifer Nieva, in an interview with Protocol this week. "They were looking to engage and bond more with kids," Nieva said of parents she and her team talked to. "They wanted to understand their kids."

Nieva said that Netflix's apps already offer a number of parental control options, including the ability to turn off autoplay for children's profiles. However, she also argued that screen time has been harder to navigate during the pandemic. "Every family has their own limits," she said.

The new email digest highlights some of the movies and shows children have recently watched on their profiles, and shows the types of themes that are common in the titles they have streamed. It also highlights additional titles a child may like, and gives parents the option to add those titles directly to their watch list. Emails for younger kids include downloadable coloring sheets, and parents are being told about features related to kids profiles. The emails will be automatically sent out to any Netflix member with a kids profile starting this Friday.

Also launching globally this week: Top 10 lists for kids, which are based on popularity and refreshed every 24 hours. A parent herself, Nieva said that those Top 10 lists had already helped her kids discover new things to watch, including the documentary "My Octopus Teacher." "I don't think my kids would have discovered it on their own," she said.

Netflix's embrace of content recommendation tools for families makes a lot of sense for the company. Around 60% of all Netflix subscribers watch kids and family content every month, and half of all members watch animated kids shows and movies on the service, according to Nieva.

However, the kids and family streaming space is also getting increasingly competitive. Disney+ is pretty much synonymous with family fare, and services like Amazon and HBO Max have also been licensing and producing an increasing number of kids shows.

At the same time, it's become harder for Netflix to grow its subscriber numbers, especially in saturated markets like North America. During the first three months of this year, the company added just 450,000 paying subscribers in North America and Canada. This makes it all the more important for Netflix to retain existing members — and keeping families hooked may be an important piece of that puzzle.

"We are the only company to be doing this," Nieva said of the new parental email digest.

Policy

Musk’s texts reveal what tech’s most powerful people really want

From Jack Dorsey to Joe Rogan, Musk’s texts are chock-full of überpowerful people, bending a knee to Twitter’s once and (still maybe?) future king.

“Maybe Oprah would be interested in joining the Twitter board if my bid succeeds,” one text reads.

Photo illustration: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images; Protocol

Elon Musk’s text inbox is a rarefied space. It’s a place where tech’s wealthiest casually commit to spending billions of dollars with little more than a thumbs-up emoji and trade tips on how to rewrite the rules for how hundreds of millions of people around the world communicate.

Now, Musk’s ongoing legal battle with Twitter is giving the rest of us a fleeting glimpse into that world. The collection of Musk’s private texts that was made public this week is chock-full of tech power brokers. While the messages are meant to reveal something about Musk’s motivations — and they do — they also say a lot about how things get done and deals get made among some of the most powerful people in the world.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Fintech

Circle’s CEO: This is not the time to ‘go crazy’

Jeremy Allaire is leading the stablecoin powerhouse in a time of heightened regulation.

“It’s a complex environment. So every CEO and every board has to be a little bit cautious, because there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire told Protocol at Converge22.

Photo: Circle

Sitting solo on a San Francisco stage, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire asked tennis superstar Serena Williams what it’s like to face “unrelenting skepticism.”

“What do you do when someone says you can’t do this?” Allaire asked the athlete turned VC, who was beaming into Circle’s Converge22 convention by video.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Enterprise

Is Salesforce still a growth company? Investors are skeptical

Salesforce is betting that customer data platform Genie and new Slack features can push the company to $50 billion in revenue by 2026. But investors are skeptical about the company’s ability to deliver.

Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Salesforce has long been enterprise tech’s golden child. The company said everything customers wanted to hear and did everything investors wanted to see: It produced robust, consistent growth from groundbreaking products combined with an aggressive M&A strategy and a cherished culture, all operating under the helm of a bombastic, but respected, CEO and team of well-coiffed executives.

Dreamforce is the embodiment of that success. Every year, alongside frustrating San Francisco residents, the over-the-top celebration serves as a battle cry to the enterprise software industry, reminding everyone that Marc Benioff’s mighty fiefdom is poised to expand even deeper into your corporate IT stack.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a writer-at-large at Protocol. He previously covered enterprise software for Protocol, Bloomberg and Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JoeWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Policy

The US and EU are splitting on tech policy. That’s putting the web at risk.

A conversation with Cédric O, the former French minister of state for digital.

“With the difficulty of the U.S. in finding political agreement or political basis to legislate more, we are facing a risk of decoupling in the long term between the EU and the U.S.”

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cédric O, France’s former minister of state for digital, has been an advocate of Europe’s approach to tech and at the forefront of the continent’s relations with U.S. giants. Protocol caught up with O last week at a conference in New York focusing on social media’s negative effects on society and the possibilities of blockchain-based protocols for alternative networks.

O said watching the U.S. lag in tech policy — even as some states pass their own measures and federal bills gain momentum — has made him worry about the EU and U.S. decoupling. While not as drastic as a disentangling of economic fortunes between the West and China, such a divergence, as O describes it, could still make it functionally impossible for companies to serve users on both sides of the Atlantic with the same product.

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Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

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