Netflix Gets Social In The U.S. Thanks To Facebook Partnership, After Over A Year Of Lobbying And Lawmaking

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Netflix today introduced Facebook integration for U.S. users, allowing subscribers who opt in to see what their friends have been watching and what they like best when logged into the service. The integration also allows users to post films or TV shows to their Facebook wall, as well as comment on their viewing activity. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explained to Bloomberg that social is the key to helping the service gain wider recognition.

The Facebook integration will be rolling out gradually to Netflix’s 27 million U.S. subscribers by the end of this week, but it took long enough to get here: the social integration was originally reported in July, 2011 during Netflix’s quarterly earnings call, but it wouldn’t be making its way to U.S. customers at that time, owing to U.S. law which prevented rental companies from making public member rental history. Netflix and Hastings lobbied congress to make changes to the law, and that’s exactly what they eventually did, enabling today’s launch.

The way was paved for today’s launch in January of this year, when President Obama signed the new Video Privacy Protection Act into law, after it successfully made its way through Congress late in 2012. The timing couldn’t be better for Netflix, however, since it has just launched its own original programming with the debut of “House of Cards”, and will deliver four more original shows by summer 2013. Netflix is also said to be expanding individual profiles to include more social features within the service itself, something which is long overdue.