Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Friends Update

Todd Yellin here, VP of Product Management. We fumbled the ball this week. In making some changes to the Movie Display Page we didn’t fully communicate how they impact users of the Friends feature, and we owe you that.

Friends is a feature on the Netflix Web site that’s been used by less than two percent of all subscribers since we added the feature in 2004. As a comparison, roughly 50 percent of Netflix members are now instantly watching movies and TV episodes on computers and televisions via game consoles, Blu-ray disc players and other devices that have been on the market since 2008.

No company has unlimited resources and we decided to move engineering development time and resources from a little used feature to support and maintain the things that benefit all Netflix members as the service evolves – more devices for streaming and better encoding, for example.

Unfortunately for Friends users, this means the phasing out of the Friends feature, which will continue over the coming months.

We’ve read every blog post, Tweet, news article and call log to Customer Service by those of you who are upset about this decision. To you, we apologize for not being more upfront earlier. We appreciate your passion and we understand your disappointment and frustration. Our decision is meant to benefit all Netflix members by allowing everyone to enjoy more movies and more TV episodes on more devices while still receiving the unbeatable convenience, selection and value that are the hallmarks of the Netflix service.

Thank you for your understanding.


  1. I find it hard to believe that 1) only 2% of the users "use" the friends option. Maybe 2% spend excessive time and energy developing a detailed friends page but bet that a significant amount of customers "check" friends pages and top ten lists (I sure did). 2) I've been a Netflix customer for years and believe nearly half my movies (maybe 2/3 of my best finds) came from the friends top ten lists. And 3) most of the friends functions are automated and consumer generated whereas I find it hard to believe it takes that many resources to leave functional. I think you guys are making a serious customer relations mistake and don't even realize it.

  2. Dear Netflix,
    I hope you "understand my disappointment and frustration." I'll be down grading my subscription from 4 to 1 at a time and as soon as my watch instantly queue is empty I'll be canceling all together. Fumbled the ball, ha, you guys spiked the football in the wrong end zone.

  3. Aside from the incredibly bad way you handled this, I believe you are continuing to make an incredibly bad decision.

    And wasn't "less than 2 percent of our users" the figure you gave when you made the brilliant move to eliminate profiles? Are we going to have to fight that battle all over again, too?

    This has not been smart strategy in any phase of your "process." Your rather condescending non-apology just adds to the mess.

  4. Todd, We won't be able to enjoy "more movies on more devices". I found 90% of the movies I watched on Lists from the Movie page of Movies I like and many other customers did also.

    You expect us to believe N-F has to kill features because it is so broke there's no R&D budget? After coming off the best year ever? I don't buy it and I'll bet other customers won't either.

    Here's why I think NF is killing the friends features. The company is buying fewer DVDs because it's moving towards total streaming. The "recommendations" the site pushes are only those that are "available now" or on Instant Watch so the company doesn't have to buy more inventory. If customers no longer have the friend features it makes it harder to find "unique, classic, independent, etc" movies N-F doesn't want to buy anyway. You want to feed the "sheep" what you have and not hear from them.

    The removal of friends features is not to benefit your customers - who built your company. It's being done for the same reason the Releasing This Week link was removed from the site 2 years ago. Company said "no one used it so we took it off". The real reason was too many people used it and N-F didn't want to purchase inventory or hear the complaints about long waits on new releases. So N-F "fixed" the long wait problem by hiding the link.

    Very bad form for a company that wanted at one time to "delight" it's customers.

  5. For the record, is this "two percent of users" measurement before or after you shoved the Friends tab into the metaphorical "Friday night death slot" at the bottom of the page and otherwise did everything you could to downplay the Friends features so people wouldn't find them and use them? In other words, are you killing Friends because the usage is low, or is usage low because you've been killing Friends in slow motion?

    And you're also neglecting to account for knock-on effects. I never used the Friends features myself, but the people who did also made all the Top 10 lists that I did use all the time—and without those lists, I have to ask myself whether your service is still of any use to me.

  6. Hmm, maybe you could have used some of the undoubtedly obscene amount of dollars from your deal with Warner Bros. to help keep this "expensive" feature going. What's next, are you going to stop carrying all the b-movies that make up my queue since "less than two percent" rent them?

  7. Oh, and I almost forgot: what about the Related Movies links (to Season 2, 3, etc of a series from the Season 1 page, for instance)? That's a single frickin' database lookup; how could that possibly be resource-intensive enough to justify its removal? Did only "two percent of users" use that too?

  8. This wouldn't be so bad if you let us get ratings via the API, like I asked for over a year ago.
    Then I could build my own Netflix Friends service.

  9. Your kidding... The only thing I use the friends for is to see what my friends have on their queue and how they rated things, did you take the users that only did that into account when making this decision or just the ones that used the top lists, notes, etc?

  10. well at least you grew a pair and made a statement on it. still sucks though

  11. This is a sad development. I hope this is not a sign of continual non-fan friendly decisions. Don't you guys realize that the supposed less than 2% of people who are using the friends tab are probably your biggest advocates? Of my 26 friends, I have personally got 1/3 of them to sign up for Netflix. Maybe I'll have to convince them to start using RedBoxes.

  12. How do they measure 2% when my friends rating was displayed on the movie details page? How do they know what I went to the details page to see.

    And I think the bit about moving towards Instant Watch and getting away from the "Long Tail" is the real reason.

    Sad - the reason I picked Netflix over Blockbuster was the long tail of their content. I also believe lists disappeared for the same reason.

    And ditto on the Related Movies link disappearance.

    This is all so disappointing.

  13. @dsims

    That's what they _should_ do - let 3rd party users develop that functionality via API =
    I like Feedflicks - if it had the friends/lists functionality I would be all over it.

  14. That really sucks.

    Is it really that expensive to keep the friend feature and just put it next to the "critics review"?

    Certainly it can't be more trouble to keep than it is just to have Members write a review on a movie in the "Members Review" section.

    Members Review, Critics review & Friends review. Is it really that big of a deal to keep that feature?



  15. Hog wash! Sorry my ass. What the hell did you do? Hire all the flunkies that put Blockbuster in the red?
    2% my ass! You insult us with lies. Shame on you. Tsk tsk tsk. Of course, if you used the same technique as the prize winning movie recommendations to get your results, then I can see why you would be way off.

  16. I enjoy this feature and have friends look at my movies for recs.

    Can't imagine it being that resource intensive to leave as is.

  17. No company has unlimited resources and we decided to move engineering development time and resources from a little used feature to support and maintain the things that benefit all Netflix members as the service evolves

    You have got to be kidding. A two year old could maintain the pitiful code required to maintain something as simple as "what your friends thought" and "add to list" functionality that has apparently been deleted to ... what? apportion resources elsewhere? Give us a friggin' break. Even if the 2% figure is accurate, you vastly underestimate the branding and loyalty that arises from this very active and very aware cohort. Not surprising, though, that the Peter Principle has infected your organization as well. Upon what are these decisions based, exactly? I'd like to thank you, however, for weakening yourselves and opening up competition. Previously your service was outstanding, despite your inability to maintain a reliable website. Now that you are removing the only features that distinguished you from any other service ... au revoire.

  18. As a fawning customer since 2002 -- and as someone who can appreciate the hard choices involved with website product management -- I'm nonetheless very disappointed to hear this news.

    Mostly, I'm saddened by the trend of hush-hush maneuvers and marketing sleight-of-hand statements -- they've shown that the formerly impeccable Netflix experience no longer prioritizes the most-earnest needs of its most loyal customers and evangelists.

    Breaking up is hard to do. I'm not sure if I'm going to cancel service right away over this latest feature drop, but I'll be taking a renewed look at my other choices: Last week I finally relented after getting multiple free rental codes from Redbox -- and was pleasantly impressed with the experience.

    And yes, Netflix, you've got a killer long-tail title selection, but as it turns out, so does my public library system.

  19. FINALLY, a response, but not the one us "power users" wanted to hear. You have continually proven than you do not care at all about your most loyal and ardent customers - the very same customers who wrote reviews, made lists, recommended movies to friends and talked up your service by word of mouth. Good job at FAILING. You lose.

  20. Thank you Netflix for finally responding.

  21. Maybe only people complain on this blog and those that are happy do not say anything. But it seemed liked more that 2% were upset with the Friends features going away.

  22. If your number, which seems implausible, of 2% is true, perhaps you'd like to contemplate what percentage of Netflix subscribers are even aware of its existence. Most of us stumbled across it by chance or mistake.

    I'd already downgraded to 2 movies per month before your explanation, because of your changes. My thought is exactly the same expressed by Veganslayer and others. With the next billing cycle I'll go down to one, watch all the instant view films on my queue, then find alternatives--maybe even start watching TV (which you'd replaced) again.

    In the meantime, I'm going to erase my reviews and votes (transferring those to Blockbuster where I'll open an account) in the hope that enough of us do to diminish (even in the slightest bit) your website's value.

    I am not a person with much faith in corporate America which is why my friends were always a little surprised by my talking up Netflix since joining in 2003. I'm truly sad that you've decided to alienate us, making us feel betrayed and as though we have to leave. While there's nothing better than Netflix out there. Netflix is now nothing better than what's out there.

  23. Read this:



  24. Oh, and by the way, this means that not only will I be stripping all of my lists and reviews off of your site, but I will also be downgrading my plan. And just in case you didn't catch it the first time, you FAIL.

  25. netflix you suck

  26. The reason only 2% of users rely on the friends section is because Netflix didn't blitz us with advertisements about it.

    Taking away friends features is NOT a good use of resources, I am not understanding, and I will terminate my service if I lose a single one of my reviews or friends.

  27. The sad thing is that Netflix is/was the only service to offer this feature and even if only 2% were taking advantage of it, that's still a huge number of people. Community should be valued and encouraged - it becomes ever more difficult to "reach out and touch some one" in this era of "remote relationships". I'm sorry that Netflix made this Corporate decision.

  28. I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    Netflix is run by unimaginative business majors.

    The rest of us have friends, and we want to keep them.

  29. Geez Todd, that's some real nice corporate BS you're spouting. In today's world, social content means everything and most companies are trying to IMPROVE their customer's enjoyment of their products and services and now NF has decided to take huge steps backwards--ones that you will pay for when your customers take their business elsewhere. Just admit that NF screwed up royally and fix it already. If NF is so hard up for cash to pay for their mistake how about taking some of those stupid TV spots off the air and give us back the content on the website that we, as loyal customers, demand.

  30. Good, get rid of the friends section. And now focus on not making us wait four months for newer movies. I'll get to see Inglourious Basterds one of these years!

  31. Friend features will continue to be phased out? Exactly what more can go?

    Are you going to actively delete my carefully written reviews? My lovingly crafted lists? Will my friends vanish?

    I am going to tell every person I know what a disloyal, backwards company this is. We are your dedicated users, providing you free, friendly content. We take the edge off the the corporate crap the studios are trying to chuck and make real recommendations to our fellow users. Never before have I disparaged your service.

    And you betray us?

    I am selling my stock. May you drop like a brick.

  32. Dear Mr. Yellin,

    I am grateful to you for your civil and forthright communication. I mean this sincerely.

    At the same time, I feel as if you have apologized for mugging me without offering to return what you stole and then kicked me when I was down by announcing that you will take even more.

    I am extremely disappointed that the Friends features will be diminished even further over coming months. Customer service has been advising callers that the Friends features are still available, on the Friends & Community page. That was very close to a lie, in light of your future plans.

    I think that many more people would use the Friend features if they were not so hard for new members to find. By contrast, instant watching has been vigorously promoted. You have tried to cast this process as democratic but the election was rigged.

    I do appreciate your response but my disappointment exceeds my gratitude.


    [:-)] Mark

    Mark Zajac

  33. I'm a computer scientist. I would think that maintaining the Friends features is trivial next to maintaining On Demand viewing.
    It's just a couple MySQL queries for crying out loud.

    You couldn't spare one coder to work on that? Not even add features, just keep it the same. Unbelievable.

    Those 2% were some of your most loyal customers that helped spread your site by word of mouth. 2% of how many? 1-10M that's still a couple hundred thousand.

    I will cancel Netflix later this week. Good luck listening to the bean counters.

  34. "
    You have got to be kidding. A two year old could maintain the pitiful code required to maintain something as simple as "what your friends thought" and "add to list" functionality that has apparently been deleted to ... what? apportion resources elsewhere? Give us a friggin' break"

    Right on- the code exists - it's a real time database dip - they could have left it.

    I'm more and more convinced this is about instant watch and getting people to rent fewer of the obscure titles. i.e it's got nothing to do with the % of users red herring.

  35. Oh, Todd sweetums, you're as big a tool as ol' Jamie a couple posts back. The soul has been sucked out of Netflix by clueless, arrogant business major "suits". This disregard for their customers signals the beginning of the end for Netflix. Hey! With the VAST amounts of money you save from this asinine decision, you'll drop the premium charge for Blu-ray discs, right? Right? ... ah the sound of crickets....!

    It may take a while but this is the first nail in the coffin. I'll be downgrading my membership and looking for alternatives. It was a nice run, but the writing is clearly on the walls and the house is crumbling. So long and thanks for all the fish.

  36. What a shame, what a shame. Like somebody else already said in another blog, I'll be changing my Facebook status to announce how disappointed I am in Netflix. I hope my friends listen better than Netflix.

  37. Another thing I wanted to mention is that when you have features for six years, and people are paying for those for SIX years, and then you take them away.

    Well then, your user base can never trust you anymore. You are just creating the impression that anything is up for being taken away. Including STREAMING MOVIES.
    Freaking ridiculous.

    The bean counters only see 2% that use. What does that even mean "2% use" ? Are you saying only 2% of users have friends on netflix? That only 2% ever click on their friend's pages, how did you measure that? If it's only clickstream intel,then you are gonna miss out when people READ IT on the freaking page.

    Can you not see why REMOVING FEATURES that have been PAID FOR FOR YEARS is a REALLY REALLY BAD idea in the long run?

    No one will trust you anymore.

    Good bye.

  38. Hope other things improveMarch 17, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    Okay Netflix....

    How am I suppose to know what dvds on other profiles are streaming now? When Friends is gone.

    Right now. I have other profile users added as friends on the master account so I can look at there Queues and jot down the number on the queue of the movies that are currently streaming.
    I then add the streaming movies.

    Log into there profile accounts and remove the titles that are streaming.

    I sure as heck hope you plan to update the Netflix profiles with Instant access on all profiles under the master account.

    Otherwise if I can't tell which movies are streaming on other profile accounts. It's just a waste of other movies that are could be shipping instead.

    I also do not want everyone to use one profile either. I like separate tastes and suggestions.

    Please fix this problem. Please update the profiles. People in households use this feature, come on.

    At least if your gonna remove Friends that focus on Families.

    Who agrees or disagrees?

  39. Waaah! I'm gonna whine and whine and whine! Waaaaah! Waaaaaaaaaah!

  40. Hope other things improveMarch 17, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    I meant:

    At least if your gonna remove Friends then focus on Families.

    The site is so plain Vanilla & it's so difficult to do anything.

  41. I have friends on NetFlix. I want to suggest movies to them. Why does NetFlix engineering make that so difficult?

  42. The only thing I use the "friends" function for is to see how they rated movies. It gave me a barometer. I rarely went into the "friends" section, but I always looked at their opinions on each and every movie page was always extremely useful. I've probably added 50+ DVDs to my queue because of my friends.

  43. Seriously?

    Do you honestly think you are dealing with idiots here Mr Yellin?

    Before you answer remind yourself that we are the lowly 2% power users. Which by our very nature makes us more intelligent and tech savvy then the monkey wearing suits you are used to dealing with.

    So spare us you not very subtle attempt at an insult!

    Not only have these changes equaled failure, but your attitude and response equals epic failure.

    You might want to revisit your attitude because if/when Amazon buy Netflix... You will be one of the first nimrods out the door.

  44. I think only 2% use the friends functionality because it was such a poorly implemented feature. You could have done so much more with it, like finding friends based on other social networking sites (Gmail address book. twitter followees, Facebook friends, etc.) Also, it was always too heavily focused on the activity of non-friends. I wanted to see what my friends were watching, and I wanted to be able to EASILY recommend things back and forth. I hope you reconsider, but only if you put the effort into doing things properly.

  45. Blow me Todd. I am going to continue to spread the Gospel that Netflix is the worst corporate entity in the universe. You have blown any possibility of competing in the universal social networking arena. Hell, even the airlines are better at this game than you are. Tell Reed that we're lookin' for him.

  46. So Todd... Does this mean that your engineers, who have had hours and hours of time each day freed as a result of this decision, will now get the following out?

    1.) High Definition streams for everyone.

    2.) At least 5.1 Surround Sound.

    3.) Close Captioning for the hearing impaired.

    4.) Better QA for streams to ensure that crap streams do not get put out, or that if one is missed they recode in a TIMELY manner.

    5.) Debug the recommendation code, because neither Fraggle Rock or Scooby Doo have anything whatsoever in common with a documentary from the History Channel on the Salem Witch Trials.

    Yeah, I suspected as much... Sometime by the end of the Calendar year in 2012... correct?

    Hoping the Mayans are right?

  47. Sad, very sad. Looks like I will be looking for a Netflix alternative. I noticed how the other feature that was reduced in usefulness (lists) wasn't even mentioned. I use lists extensively to manage my queues and, while they are still there, they are now difficult to access and edit to the point where they are useless. Too bad, it was a nice ride while it lasted.

  48. My BS detector is going off the charts.

    One of the things I like most about netflix is looking at my friends list and seeing what they've recently rated, put in their queue, etc...I'm really disappointed that this will be phased out even more.

  49. EVERYONE likes to see what their friends rated a movie, and it used to show up right at the top of a page when you looked at a movie summary. I find it incredibly hard to believe that such a small (and useful) feature was causing you grief and despair. I find it harder to believe you can even accurately measure how many people look at things like that because they do not require clicking.

    Instead, you replaced this tiny and useful feature with a huge ugly window of comments from people I don't give a shit about. If things continue in this vein, I'll get rid of my subscription and go to Vulcan Video instead. It's local, and their selection is better.

    You need to remember what made you popular in the first place: selection and community. If you are getting rid of one, I assume you will eventually get rid of the other. When I signed up for Netflix, I wasn't exactly signing up for Blockbuster Online.

  50. BTW, waiting nearly two weeks to respond and then saying "too bad" is way too little, too late.

    I'm taking my ball (i.e. reviews, ratings, and business) and going home (anywhere but Netflix)

  51. My household have been loyal customers for years. The friends feature is one of the best parts of Netflix, and I frequently refer to my friends' lists to be exposed to things I wouldn't have known existed. It was one of the things that we used to convince other people to join your company because they valued it too. I can't believe the stats that are presented here. This is one of the things that made your company stand out from the rest. Without such features, I might as well go to any other rental company out there, looking only for price differences. What a pity, you are making a big mistake.

  52. It seems absurd that you can offer users streams of thousands of films, yet you're concerned about the resources used to keep the friends features.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see a slow phasing out of all of the lesser known, eclectic titles either, since only 2%, or 5%, or 8% - or however many people - rent those titles. Netflix will then become another variation of the Blockbuster video chain, which we all know is a sinking ship -- Red Box can satisfy that demographic better than Netflix can.

    In the meantime I'm going to give a try. (They even rent all-region/non-region DVDs that aren't available in North America! And in terms of community features, they look to be better than even "old Netflix.") I also just discovered, which I hadn't heard of previously. From their web-page: "For fast turnaround time - unlike our competitors - we start processing your next queued movies as soon as you drop your returns in the mail. In order to use this feature, simply click "mailed back" button on or after you drop off your movies at your local post office." (Both greencine and cafedvd are based in CA, so I'm curious to find out how long it takes their DVDs to arrive at my house in Maryland.) Oh, it looks like greencine has a similar kind of "quick return" feature. Netflix should steal that; it's a good idea. (Which means they won't.)

  53. Hey Todd... I was a little discouraged when I "power used" the internet just now. How can you expect Netflix Customers to have any faith in your Site Design choices when you do not even know how to resize an image to make it fit (not to mention the ego you must have... Jeesh!)

    Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid!

    Oh and Todd???? You really probably should have bought that book on your Amazon Wishlist because it seems you really should have read it:

    Community Policing and Problem Solving: Strategies and Practices

    As these recent actions you have taken suggest you simply do not have a single clue how it all works...

  54. Not happy about this Netflix. Not happy at all.

    I fail to see how just allowing people to have their friends and throwing up a tab to view those friends' ratings of each movie consumes many "resources." It's not like you had to add any new functionality here.

    I've lost a lot of love for Netflix as a company over the last couple of years. Too bad I'm part of the 2% who are passionate enough about your service to comment on blogs like this, b/c obviously you couldn't care less about us.

  55. How do you attribute the 2%? Are you looking at page view statistics for friends related features and pages? Or is it only 2% of the entire Netflix population that have friends?

    I can tell you that I used the friends feature 100% of the time I went to the site, every single time I looked at the movie details page. Now, because friends are gone, I do not use the site as much. I do not spend as much time surfing the site for movies because it's not as useful without being able to see what my friends have rated movies. I believe you have an extremely powerful tool and are abandoning it without fully considering it.

    I have directly caused 3 people to join your site because of this feature. That may not be a lot, but how many other customers have done the same? Now I sort of regret it. If you really strip friends away, I'll probably cancel my subscription. I'll also tell the people that joined to do the same.

    I am genuinely saddened and disappointed about this news, both as a movie lover and a loyal customer.

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  57. Thanks for finally responding/coming clean.

    Thing is, if NF really were made up of 'rabid movie fans', as you claim in the blog, why wouldn't you cherish and nurture this nutty 2% that snuffle tirelessly through your vast inventory digging-up truffles for their fellow truffle lovers? Of course the business has to be cost effective overall, but even if the esoteric 'Community' that Mr Rubin so painstakingly and respectfully set-up isn't pulling the numbers that you'd like, surely it and its members afford you a uniqueness and star quality that unquestionably separate you from your competition? You know, just as Haute Couture does for the fashion industry that makes its real money at K Mart and Kohls.

    In short, sometimes it's more than just numbers. We kinda thought that Mr Hastings felt the same way, hence the possibly disproportionate disappointment.

  58. While streaming is definitely the wave of the future (not to mention terrific), I use the friends page and find it essential. It is the best way I have of finding out about worthwhile, little known films to put in my queue. If it is not being used by some members, it may be because the service there has really deteriorated. I've been trying to post my photo for months as well as use other features with no luck. Please try to find some way to keep this valuable Netflix feature! Agree that this announcement is a real thumbs down. --LadyFromShanghai

  59. Todd,

    It's always nice to read a sincere and heartfelt apology from someone who has upset you. While we wait for that to be posted by Netflix, I guess I'll just have settle for addressing the condescending remarks coming from your post.

    Sure, 2% isn't much, but I should perhaps point out that it may just be the "top 2%" of the Netflix users: Those who know the nooks and crannies of the website, those who can't stop talking about Netflix, who heavily promote it to friends and colleagues - and the 2% who produce the vast majority of reviews. Reviews that Netflix gets for free. I'm sure I don't have to remind you that only 14% of Netflix subscribers ever write a review and only a fraction of those people ever write more than one. I wonder what bracket the friends users, those measly 2%, are in, the ones who write no reviews? The ones who write 1 review or the ones who write more than one? I'd love to hear some data on that one, Todd.

    Now tell me, do you, and the rest of Netflix, really expect that these 2% are going to continue producing free reviews for you when you take away the features they rely on when using the site? Really?

    No, really?

    Or did Netflix perhaps forget to ask "which 2% of Netflix subscribers is it who use the Friends Section"?

    Furthermore, and I really do hope this isn't characteristic of the level of thinking at Netflix these days, you set up a false dichotomy in your post, either Friends or Instant Watch. I see no reason both can't exist, there's nothing mutually exclusive about the two features and they peacefully coexisted until just about a week ago. No one doubts that streaming is the future for Netflix and that it's the area where Netflix should focus it's resources, but this was an already developed feature. You had to spend time (resources) on removing it.

    Hopefully Netflix has taken the value of reviews into account when making this decision. I for one am done supplying Netflix with free reviews, I'm done recommending Netflix to anyone, I'm done rating movies, when Netflix can't even be bothered to provide this simple feature.

    I hope my fellow protesters will follow me in this.

    P.S. I read that you have a million dollars you guys are not giving away any more. If you need ideas on what to do with it, I'll be happy to help out. Won't cost you anything either.

  60. So this pretty much means that Netflix is announcing that their software design team is completely incapable of running a proper web site.

    Think about it.

    The reviews are basic message board functionality. There are few if any sites that don't offer a very basic message board or comment feature.

    The Notes are pretty much private messages on this message board.

    Lists are no different than adding favorites or making folders, or think of it like the "wish list" feature on Amazon, just basic compilation of links to another page.

    The Friends/Fans/Faves are just like your friends/favorites on a message board.

    So overall they are really just ditching ONE OF THE MOST BASIC FEATURES on the internet, a message board. If they can't find a programmer that has passed CS150 at any college or university that can't set a very simple one up they should just get out of the internet business.

    Then to top it off, they cant add a simple query on their message board (that really is all each movie page is really a little sticky note at the top with the information about the movie, and then replies at the bottom as reviews) that looks up what the people that you have made Friends on the message board. But they can run the same exact feature that we are talking about to find out what some guy who writes for a paper or web site thinks about it? If they can look up what Ebert thought i should be able to clearly find out what any of my 18 friends thought with just the same amount of programming involved.

    This is beyond stupidity. Sure netflix is a message board with around a dozen million members, but how many are lurkers? It can be handled with ease I am sure.

    Seriously, is it that hard to understand? This is all it takes, and just make it pretty and sparkly as that is really what you want the website to be.


  61. Big mistake Todd. Big! Huge. They call us power users for a reason. Get ready to see what happens when you don't listen to the people that pay your bills. People, for every movie you've watched post a protest review.

  62. Shady mother fuckers!

  63. Later Netflix. Mark this move as your demise. Bittorent and imdb here I come.

  64. So.. Essentially everything that made this site more then just a bare bones movie rental site is out? Nice.

    Might as well kill all rating systems all together. The only reason I have ever rated movies was so my friends could see what I thought. There is no other point in rating movies (Other then trying to make Netflix recommend stuff, But after rating 490 movies, Netflix STILL hasn't recommended ONE movie I had any interest in.)

    I don't understand why it's so costly to keep features that are already implemented? I can understand not developing it more, but how much work can it be to keep something up that seems to be working perfectly fine?

    Honestly, I will be using this site a LOT less. I log in daily right now just to see what my friends are up to, and that usually leads me to browsing through other stuff. Now I will only log in when I send movies in to make sure I get what i want back.

    Way to take your site from being fun to being all business.

    Seriously, Netflix has no future. It's just another money hungry corporation that will learn the error of it's ways when it finally fades from existence. Why else would the greatest emphasis be on making it so you can stream movies in more ways? MORE CUSTOMERS. Forget the people already paying to be a member, we want more money!

    I'm sorry.. I have Five (Not including the multiple computers) devices in my house I can stream from.. Believe it or not, I only need to use ONE of those.

    Oh... and How is comparing Streaming and the friends feature even fair? Of course streaming is going to be more popular.. It's a whole different thing. That's like saying "More people go to the movies then are facebook members". It's obvious that even the people not using the friends feature would take advantage of the stream-able movies. Plus, The friends feature is HIDDEN. I had to SHOW MY FRIEND HOW TO FIND IT SO SHE COULD USE IT.

    In the end, The friends feature COULD have made netflix MORE then just a rental company. It could have been something like Flixster and Netflix combined... But nope, It's going to stay a pure rental company, Absolutely nothing special.

    I am switching to Blockbuster.. At least I can go trade my movies in at the store.. and HEY.. They stream movies on my Tivo. ;)

  65. Heyyy.. Idea: Why don't you get rid of the "movies you'll love" crap and the 'user reviews'.. and keep the friends stuff? I have never based my rental experience of a strangers review (That's dumb.)

    And the movies you love thing is a joke.. Ohhh You watched a comedy.. here's more comedy movies! Well gee, Thanks, I could have found those by going to COMEDIES. it's never something relevent, and 99% of the time it's a movie released in the last 2 months. At least my friends tipped me off to a LOT of movies I was interested in but never heard of, just by checking out what they had watched!

  66. Seriously, the amount of invective posted here is amazing. I don't think losing the friends feature is really al that big a deal. I've been a member since 1999 and while the features were nice they never featured very prominently in my Netflix usage.

  67. Anonymous said…
    "Here's why I think NF is killing the friends features. The company is buying fewer DVDs because it's moving towards total streaming.… If customers no longer have the friend features it makes it harder to find "unique, classic, independent, etc" movies N-F doesn't want to buy anyway."

    Well said and DITTO

    I used the Top Ten Lists on the movie pages to find “unique, classic, independent,” and unfamiliar movies to rent. Devoid of this feature, Netflix is of no benefit to me.

    In addition, the Friends’ feature made this place like a community that I enjoyed to ‘hang out’ in. Now, without that feature, Netflix is just like any other barren video store.

    I am deeply saddened at the loss and feel betrayed that it was done in such a sly and devious manner. Dolefully, Netflix is not concerned with what I feel or think because, after all, I am just one of those ‘2%.’ One thing is for sure, when I am not wanted, I do not stay around.

    Like some previous members have stated, I am going to watch the movies in my Instant Queue and look around for another beneficial and friendly place.

  68. Todd, what tops this off more than anything else is that the Netflix recommendations software stinks. You can't even claim Netflix's software works properly.

    For instance, the 1946 Italian neorealist film "Paisan" is described on its movie page as "sentimental." Sentimental? A war picture with lots of tragic deaths is sentimental?

    You're getting everything backwards. You and your company will come to regret this direction in the months to come.

  69. If Netflix only had 1 million customers, (according to Wikipedia it's more like 10 million), and if all of their customers were only on the 1 DVD out at a time plan at $8.99 a month, (most people, Netflix says, are on the 2 or 3 plan at $13.99 and $16.99), that would be $107,880,000 a year. If they really do have 10 million customers, that's at least $1,078,800,000 a year. That's right... over 1 billion dollars. Surely with all that money they could afford to hire a couple of people to maintain the Friends feature. Maybe they could hire back a few of those 50 people they laid off because that piece of shit Silverlight was so scary good.

  70. I must also add, yes you fumbled the ball, but this is not the recovery.

    This is more like the overweight, out of shape, too old to still be playing, only in because of injury offensive lineman diving for the ball and and knocking it further away from the teammates and closer to the defensive players.

    Think about your "2%" this way: I am responsible for several accounts. The following people have joined based on my recommendation and praise of the service, my parents, my sister, my girlfriend's parents, 3 co-workers, and my best friend. As well as providing a couple of positive feedbacks to people on other message boards that were going to join and I reassured them that they were going to love it. By my account that is 7 people. My girlfriend also joined, but has since canceled her account and made a profile under my account, and I bumped up my subscription to account for this. If every "2%" is this typical prototype then the 2% is actually responsible for 14% of the membership alone before the 2% is added back in for 16%. sure it is not 85% or anything but that is still a significant portion.

    Netflix is just pissing on that contribution to their success and saying a giant FU to all the members that worked so hard for them to convince that they were a great service and could save money for friends and family.

    I now fail to see the point in reviewing any movies (I don't care if random people read them), or rating movies (only exception is for my own reference, as the million dollar system that Netflix paid for is crap and suggests things based on no similarities at all). I guess my lists are gone and I will have to add a new profile so I know what movies I want to add to my queue next, as I am at 500 constantly and I use my lists primarily to add movies to my queue when a slot opens.

    Have fun getting free content Todd. I know I will no longer provide it, and once the attention seeking top reviewers stop getting helpful clicks because they are no longer able to spam that they have reviewed they will stop reviewing as well. This will leave you with nothing but "I only watched 10 minutes" "Why couldn't I understand what they were saying, I thought this was in English" "Why is it Black and White" and "Closed captions please" reviews. Good luck with that.

  71. I've been noticing the decline of anything feature-related for years (member since 2000). This is becoming merely a rental outlet for mainstream films: I used to be able to get decent recommendations with friends and fans links. Film reviews on the site are turning into blogging forums and generally a complete waste of time unless I link to reviewers I trust: you have gone out of your way to make this more and more difficult to do. Also, the Netflix provided recommendations have been getting stranger and from of the comments here, it makes sense that I'm being steered away from films you don't have and do not intend to have. What originally drew me to Netflix was the availability of hard to find films: looking over my rental history recently, I'm stunned by how many of the films I have only seen by renting them from Netflix are no longer available. Shockingly, some do not even appear in the database any more (for instance, Itami's "A Taxing Woman"), although I still have a link in my rental history. I'm tempted to write a review for this "nonexistent" film (since I can reach the page) to see if something blows up when I hit submit. I've had some films in the "Saved" section of my queue for years -- in some cases, close to a decade -- awaiting availability. It's hard enough to find great films, apparently it's going to get harder and you'll comfort me with an apologize every time you remove a feature I've come to depend (however, only after the fact since there is no way you would ever think to provide any notice). And, it's getting more likely that I'm not even going to be available to view films I'm lucky enough to stumble across on my own. I'm sure I have to be one of your oldest continuing customers (certainly in least in the oldest "2%", I'm sure -- so that would make me unimportant), but this incident coupled with the other issues I've mentioned has this old-timer seeking an exit before the bottom completely falls out.

  72. Subverting the rating system with non reviews to post rants about it are not the way to go about protesting this. I personally was unaware of the issue until I spotted two users copy and paste posts on EVERY SINGLE MOVIE in the new release category. So I went from unaware to unsympathetic in one fell swoop. I called customer service to see if they were taking the reviews down and they said yes and today they are gone. New posts have now been added by the same users. I think that Netflix should cancel the accounts of those misusing the review system in this manner. Or hey, maybe they can drop that feature too. If it's just going to be polluted by internet white knights there is no use in having it anyway.

  73. This is just terrible, I have 10 friends on my list and one of the best parts of it was that I could click on a movie and right away see what my friends rated it. You really dropped the ball here, I'm downgrading my subscription just so I can say at least I'm trying to fight it. This was a feature that made Netflix stand out, once a product comes out that is similar to what Netflix does with regards to streaming I'll be using it.

  74. Ridiculous reasoning. I used the Friends feature EVERY TIME I looked at a movie detail page.

    I've been a member for a long time, March 2001. Most of that time has been trouble-free, but first the Warner 30-day nonsense, and now this?

    What is happening to Netflix? C'mon guys, let's turn this around.

    A disappointed "two-percenter"

  75. People...its a MOVIE RENTAL company! I can only assume that everyone that complain about not being able to have friends on Netflix has too much time on your hands. And if you want to feel special...then go to FACEBOOK or MYSPACE.

    Would you go to a dentist to fix your car?

  76. Perhaps so few people use the friends features because they're terrible.

    Netflix's UI is pretty antiquated in general, but the friends page is incredibly dated and clunky.

    Though these days the friend feature isn't required on Netlix proper. they could get better results with a facebook app and save a lot of cash, likely.

  77. Let me find my local Red Box. This is seriously ridiculous. And the redesign looks TERRIBLE. There's so much free space. I'm really done with this. This is the last time Netflix is going to get me.

  78. I don't believe the 2%. Only one of my ten friends that I know are on Netflix won't use the Friends feature. I'm terribly disappointed in Netflix. This is a real loss to your service and at times was the only reason I continued to be a member.

  79. This is terribly disappointing. One of the things that makes Netflix stand apart from the numerous other services where one can obtain content is the fact that you have put so much effort into not merely providing the services, but in creating a community where people can share their thoughts on the movies they've seen and post lists for others to review. I pay my monthly fees in order to receive my disks and get movies streamed to me, but the Friends feature and the ability to create lists is something I've always considered an important bit of added value that elevated Netflix above the level of just another place to rent movies.

    I am a serious film buff, and like many of those like me, the ability to create lists has become an integral workaround to the fact that you can place no more than 500 items in your DVD queue. I have another 300 films in a list that functions as an overflow for my queue. Am I now going to have to find a way to export that list out to Excel, or write it out by hand and keep it in a notebook? If this is the case, I hope you understand that you are directly and very tangibly subtracting value from my Netflix subscription.

    I've been a Netflix subscriber for 10 years now. I've been a subscriber for most of the time you've been around, and to be honest, I'm not leaving because I still think you guys do what you do better than anyone else in the game. But this is a pretty tough pill to swallow. You rolled out this feature, people got used to using it, even began to depend on it to get the maximum value out of their subscriptions, and now you're just yanking it away because - and I'm reading between the lines here - you guys simply are no longer interested in devoting resources to keeping it running.

    This is a mistake. I really hope you reconsider.

  80. This comment has been removed by the author.

  81. I did not use the "Friends" feature, but I often looked at the "lists" that were posted on the movie description pages so that I could find similar movies. I will miss this feature very much, and wonder if it would be possible to add member "lists" back to your pages?

    Your current lists are not even searchable, so it is essentially impossible to find appropriate lists now; please at least add a search feature to member lists, and new site links to make the lists search more accessible. I believe if you did that, it would make many of the "Friends" users a lot more happy.

  82. My first comment ever to this forum.

    What a huge disappointment. I've been a member for just five years, but have rented at least a couple thousand films from Netflix, and half of those, if not more, were because a film was either recommended (or hated- ha!) by a friend or someone who had written a review.

    I've enjoyed having the option to steam a few movies, but the feature really isn't all that useful for me because my internet provider applies a monthly bandwidth cap which severely limits the number of videos I can stream from Netflix- to 2 or 3 per week.

    We have enough titles in our queue to warrant not downgrading our subscription as of right now, but without the friends feature I am sure I'll find far fewer titles to add.

  83. Part of the fun of my account is seeing what my coworkers and friends thought of various movies. I guess I won't be able to see that info now though =\

  84. Can those who are not affected by this change resist the urge to belittle the rest of us? Clearly, a large number of people use the site in the way that you don't (i.e. to learn about, discuss, and discover movies), and while it's totally fine that you just use it to rent and return movies, there's no sense insisting to us that we don't use the site in the way we use it. Whatever the result of our argument, Netflix will continue to provide you (the 98%) with your new releases, so I don't see the point of the backlash towards the backlashers.

    If only there were just a Goodreads for movies, I would be cool. Well, that and a promise from Netflix that they won't extend their increasing do-it-all-for-the-numbers sensibilities to their selection. I'm worried that my lesser-known titles will disappear and be replaced with more commercially successful garbage.

  85. What the 98 percenters that are supporting this decision might not know or remember is that the 'power users' actually helped build the Friends features over many months of constant feedback on this very blog, which perhaps helps explain why the alleged 2% feel more invested in and proprietorial towards that aspect of the site than might otherwise seem reasonable.

    As for those that made this decision, please understand that your belovéd algorithms might work well on paper, but out here in the real world we've found that the 'movies we heart' are best provided by living, breathing humans. Of course there are workarounds, but none so convenient and centralized. Oh well...

  86. Boo! Goodbye Netflix. Hello GreenCine.

  87. @Susan: There is a LivingSocial application on Facebook which has some of the same functionality as GoodReads does, but it's not really a replacement for the Friends feature.

    It's a shame we even have to start talking about how we're going to replace the function that's going to be lost when Friends goes away. This is what I mean when I say that Netflix is implementing a tangible subtraction of value from the service.

  88. eh.. I won't miss it.

  89. That 2% was the heart and soul of your fanbase. They generated an enormous amount of free editorial content at a time when you really needed it. No, it's "Sorry geeks, we're moving on." Good luck with the remaining 98%, all of whom have "Couple's Retreat" at the top of the queue of 26 films. These casual users won't think twice about ditching Netflix once their cable providers lock up the streaming licenses for the handful of big features they want to see. Meanwhile, your new "2% strategy" inevitably points the way to future cutbacks in art and independent films. I've already noticed that my "Saved" queue full of "Unknown" availabilities is getting as big as my "Available" queue. See ya, Netflix.

  90. It is also disappointing that the initial disrespect was from the Chief Marketing Officer, while the apology was delegated to the VP of Product Management.

    [:-)] Mark

  91. I have deleted all my reviews and have lowered my subscription to 1 at a time. You've made me consider going back to Blockbuster... and that takes a lot.

    Going by the "only 2% use it logic," you should get rid of all the small indie films and/or foreign films that only 2% watch. Just delete them and save yourself the money. Screw art, just go for the cash. Awesome.

  92. Oh, and why did it take you guys two weeks to respond? Late is better than never, but c'mon! Microsoft responds quicker!

  93. Disappointing. The Friends feature has been one of my and my distant family's favorite aspects of Netflix. I hope the push to stream movies, does not alienate those of us who still like to receive our DVDs by mail and who like to watch small independent movies and documentaries.

  94. I'm amazed that Netflix doesn't see the value in promoting the social aspect of their site and how in the end that can grow loyalty and use.

    In an era where almost every company in America is trying to figure out how to leverage the social space, I think we can mark this as one of the biggest fumbles Netflix has ever made.

    Now with no differentiator between itself and any other movie site, as streaming becomes dominant, I see Netflix disappearing. I've already lowered my subscription and am really looking forward to the day Apple comes out with a streaming subscription to iTunes, then I'll say goodbye to Netflix for good.

  95. I don't use the friends feature. Get over it, you whining net babies!

  96. Apparently I'd MUCH rather have reviews of strangers complaining about subtitles or the curse words in R rated movies than the simple five-star ratings of people I know and trust.

    Bad move all over, Netflix.

  97. That Blows! I guess I'm one of the 2%. I really liked this feature. Just a thought but maybe only 2% used the friend feature cause it was totally buried and never fully developed??

  98. I'm confused and disheartened by the decision to remove the friends feature.

    How is this 2% number counted? Before or after the friends page was demoted to a link on the bottom of the page? Although only 2% of users may use the feature regularly, each of those users may have 5 friends each who like to see their friend's movie ratings.

    What is the motivation to write reviews of movies that only strangers will see? When my friends can see my reviews, I know that they will see and appreciate them. Writing reviews for the benefit of strangers doesn't appeal to me. How I share the list of movies I like with people who primarily watch movies that they see I like on netflix? Is it really that costly to let me see what my friends rated movies (and maybe what is in their queue)?

    I value my friends' recommendations over whatever Netflix's algorithm suggests. I would prefer that netflix invest less time in the algorithm and more on the friends feature.

    With the popularity of social networking, I don't understand why netflix is making the site less personalized, social, and community-oriented.

  99. First comment on the Netflix blog. I'm also very sad about this. One of the best features of the site is the community. I have many friends who are subscribers and I view their opinion over many of the bad "member reviews". Word of mouth is the best recommendation and if you can dump money into the "Movies you'll love" feature of the site and can't put money into the community well that says a lot.

    Being able to see the star ratings of my friends was a valuable service to me. Seeing how popular social networking sites are I would assume netflix would be working hard to keep that type of community here bringing them together rather then pulling users apart.

    I've told many people how valuable my netflix subscription was and part of that was the ease of finding good content. Sadly the best way to find the best content is being phased out.

    This on top of the top 15 blu-ray movies in my queue being at "Very Long Wait" doesn't help my mood either.

  100. Thank you NetFlix for sharing the facts: ~2% of users use this feature, I understand why you are phasing it out.


    "Hey 2 percent, go f@ck yourselves. We don't care about you whatsoever! Don't let the door hit you in the @ss on the way out!"

    Thanks a lot Netflix. Geez.

  102. How do I find out what my friends think about a movie? I'll call them and ask them! Get over it people!

  103. SORRRY, but I fail to see how maintaining the "Friends Feature" is using up valuable resources.

    Are you trying to tell us that an entire wing of your headquarters was constantly working to keep the "Friends Feature" up and running?

    How stupid do you think we are?

    Pretty stupid, obviously.

    C'mon! You really expect ANYONE to believe that by phasing out "FRIENDS" you can suddenly free up tons of people to work on something else?

    Are you serious?

    You honestly expect us to by that crock of SH&T!?


  104. So basically you're saying that all of us who use Friends are irrelevant @ssholes.

  105. Do you know why only 2 percent of people use Friends?


    Hell, I wouldn't know unless someone(other than Netflix) told me about it.

    It's a hidden feature that you have to discover on your own.

    Had you made it clear to everyone in the first place, I'm guessing a hell of a lot more than 2 percent would be using it.

    Instead you keep it a hidden secret. And now we're being punished for finding it.

    Wow, what morons we have running Netflix. What a shame.

    I hope you realize that I'm a paying customer who has been happy with Netflix but NOW do to YOUR actions, I am actively looking at your competitors as an alternative.

    Was that what you were hoping to accomplish Netflix?

    Oh, I could care less.

  106. The idiot wrote:

    "How do I find out what my friends think about a movie? I'll call them and ask them! Get over it people!"

    Do you have any idea what a moronic statement that is? Obviously you never used the friends feature or you wouldn't spout such moronic, ignorant rubbish.

    For your own sake, keep your mouth shut, for when you open it, you ooze ignorance. Stop commenting on what you don't know.


  107. Funny that you'll allow a feature like Member Reviews to continue to exist.

    You know the member reviews section don't you? The section where you often find the person saying "I only watched 2 minutes of the movie and turned it here's my review"

    Yeah that.

    That's more important than the friends reviews?

  108. I think we should show Netflix exactly how wrong they are about their innacurate listing of only 2% users. If everyone using the friends features has 50 friends (or at least 1!)--send them a note and tell them to call Netflix to demand the features back or at least come here and voice their displeasure to dear old Todd. That's a lot of Netflix users and I'm sure more than 2%.

  109. 2% = about 300,000 people

    That's 300,000 people who are pissed.

    That's a lot of people.

    The ones who never used it, don't care one way or the other. You did NOT score points with them. You just pissed off 300,000 people. That's all.

  110. Frankly, I could care less about the friends feature. Focus on high quality streaming of good content.

    Netflix user for 5 years.

  111. Only 2% use it because of its design... Its no wonder because everyone I talk to has no idea its there. Most people don't even know that if you rate movies you get better recommendations. What you need to do is open up Netflix to everyone as a free service for rating movies, making to watch lists, and see what other friends like. If people want to pay for movies, they have that option. You're looking at this issue all wrong and you're killing innovation.

  112. I've never used the Friends feature. Frankly, I don't really care what my friends watch. If giving up this feature means better service in other areas, such as streaming, then I'm all for it. Or maybe it means they can keep pricing constant...again, that's great.

    Well, just thought there should be at least ONE comment that is not negative, so here it is!

  113. Terrrrrible. You should work on making friends better so more people use it instead of getting rid of it. Friends recommendations lead to people finding and watching more movies which keeps people on your service.

    This is stupid.

  114. Hah Hah Hah! I think this person has summed it up quite nicely!

    Click to View

  115. The reason only 2% used the Friends feature was because it was poorly implemented and was hidden away in poorly visible areas of the site. If it was easier to see which of my friends were using Netflix and connect with them (think about a Facebook style system or app for Facebook), many more people would use this and you would get great clustering data out of it. In addition, I browse my friend's queues to find movies that I might like so that we can talk about them later.

    Please, please, please don't kill this feature! At the very least, just remove people from further development and let it stay as it is.

  116. " If giving up this feature means better service in other areas, such as streaming, then I'm all for it. "

    If you think this (or any other service improvements or fee reductions) will actually happen as a result of the removal of the Friends feature then you're quite delusional.

  117. I agree with all of these comments, this is a huge loss and a really stupid mistake. I got ALL my recommendations from other people's cool lists. I stayed up late trying to make perfect lists. I loved writing reviews. Now, all of that is gone--for reasons I don't believe for a second. You hired some newbie who wants to change everything, impress the boss. I've seen it happen in all corporations. This person (or team) probably hates movies and art.

    I'm seriously depressed. For us chronic list makers and movie fans, this is a huge huge loss. I now hate Netflix. I am downgrading to 1 movie from four. I'm passing the word (and I have a big mouth) about how Netflix turned to yuck.

    Sad, sad, sad.

  118. I agree with all of these comments, this is a huge loss and a really stupid mistake. I got ALL my recommendations from other people's cool lists. I stayed up late trying to make perfect lists. I loved writing reviews. Now, all of that is gone--for reasons I don't believe for a second. You hired some newbie who wants to change everything, impress the boss. I've seen it happen in all corporations. This person (or team) probably hates movies and art.

    I'm seriously depressed. For us chronic list makers and movie fans, this is a huge huge loss. I now hate Netflix. I am downgrading to 1 movie from four. I'm passing the word (and I have a big mouth) about how Netflix turned to yuck.

    Sad, sad, sad.

  119. I agree with all of these comments, this is a huge loss and a really stupid mistake. I got ALL my recommendations from other people's cool lists. I stayed up late trying to make perfect lists. I loved writing reviews. Now, all of that is gone--for reasons I don't believe for a second. You hired some newbie who wants to change everything, impress the boss. I've seen it happen in all corporations. This person (or team) probably hates movies and art.

    I'm seriously depressed. For us chronic list makers and movie fans, this is a huge huge loss. I now hate Netflix. I am downgrading to 1 movie from four. I'm passing the word (and I have a big mouth) about how Netflix turned to yuck.

    Sad, sad, sad.

  120. I'll be downgrading my subscription to 1-out now, and possibly looking for other options. The Friends feature made Netflix special.

  121. The more a customer uses netflix (surfing the site, streaming, renting dvds) the less money they make on that customer. They want the most active 2% of their users to cancel and go to another service. The problem that they don't seem to see is that those 2% are the ones who spread the word to more casual users. Netflix should stop advertising in the tech and social space and start flooding the retirement home set if they don't want technically keen and social customers.

    In a few years it won't matter. Streaming is the future. Netflix is blazing the trail for us and we should be thankful. They are figuring out how to do streaming from the technical side and studio side. Once the trail is established, it will be much easier for competitors to launch without having to build shipping centers. Netflix own engineers will start competitors as soon as it is feasible. One there are more competitors, we will have our choice of those that are more social and those that are more technical.

  122. What a bunch of babies you all are. If any of you had the capacity to communicate with your 'friends' outside of a third party's website , you would realize that NF isn't actually ruining your life.

  123. Hey Todd. We're not your employees. You don't tell us what to do. We tell you what to do!!!

  124. I tried to enter the contest for the Viseo 42 inch TV offered by Big Prize Giveaways on Facebook, and it won't let me enter. When I click on the entry text, it just moves the text to a different part of the screen, like a joke. It also won't let me join Netflix.

    I thought you would want to know.

  125. As suggested elsewhere, perhaps the best way to protest is to save your movie ratings and then start rating everything randomly to screw up their algorithm. The user created lists were always vastly superior to the suggestions Netflix came up with anyway, and if enough people rate things with no rhyme or reason then perhaps the "98%" that Netflix really cares about (many of whom don't rate many movies to begin with) will start to notice.

    To the list-makers and others interested in discovering new cinema, there are many invaluable lists to be found here:

  126. I am very disappointed both by your decision and your self-admittedly underhanded way of revealing it. I called CS last week to complain about the removal of the friend ratings from the movie detail page and was told that the friend feature itself wasn't going anywhere.

    Your stats probably are not even correct, after establishing my friendships I didn't ever visit the friend tab, I simply looked at what other people rated movies I was thinking about queuing. You can't tell I read that information as I never needed to click on it.

    Integration with services like Facebook are useless because I am NOT interested in what my friends and family are rating right now, but rather when I look at a movie and they saw, maybe even three years ago, I want to know the information THEN.

  127. to all those telling people to 'just get over it' if you didn't use the netflix friends features then how does this announcement/blog post even pertain to you? how pathetic is it to actively follow a blog posting and then respond to it when you weren't interested in it in the first place? todd yellin has already admitted that this entire situation has been mishandled by netflix and that he is a major screw up. people have every right to be annoyed at this little douchebag.

  128. Todd, congrats on navigating Netflix away from a market-leading movie rental business into Hulu for the Starz channel. Less features + more 1.5 star-rated straight-to-dvd releases = success!

  129. Please share SOON when the Friends feature will be eliminated (SPECIFIC FUTURE DATE), so users can implement using an alternative system. Thanks.

  130. The part of the Friends feature that I used the most was something that you probably couldn't track--seeing what my friends rated other movies. This was very useful to me and only required a glance. I understand if you want to take away to lion's share of Friends features due to lack of use, but please still allow us to have friends and see their ratings on the movie pages.

  131. To those who say that this feature can be replaced by just "talking with your friends"...

    I am not sure how boring you and your friends lives are, But me and my friends don't usually start our convo's by listing what movies we have watched/added to our queue lately. We have more important things to do/talk about.

    Having the friends list enables me to check and see what people are up too, and this has lead to me adding a LOT of movies I either never heard of, or forgot about. I can see that so-and-so added 10 movies to his queue today, Out of curiosity, i check them out... and oh look! 3 are now on my queue!

    Why would my friend call me and list the last 10 movies he added to his list? Yeah, Sure.. He could call and say 'HEY i just checked out this movie and its great'... But what if he only gave it a 3 star rating and brushed it off, But I would have liked it more?

    For people who use netflix the most, the whole "talk to your friends in real life!" is pretty stupid.

    And yes, I could use Netflix to suggest movies to me... But as I already said, The only time it ever makes a good suggestion is when I watch season 1 of something and it says "Hey, Check out season 2". Thanks for that.

  132. Ok, if you are facing limited resources, how about publishing a good API and allowing us to associate our Netflix Accounts with Facebook and/or Google Profile then letting other people generate the mashups.

    I believe that would give your users the functionality they want, reduce the places that they need to maintain a social network and reduce the load on your devs.

  133. See? All you had to do was the simplest thing possible: leave it alone. That would have taken absolutely zero effort. Don't put any resources into improving it, or expanding it, or doing anything to it whatsoever. Just leave it alone. Zero cost to you.

    And now look at all the customers you've pissed off. Not just any customers, but "power users"... by far the most avid segment of your customer base. Extraordinarily unwise, by any measure.

  134. Weak excuse Todd. If you don't have the man power to do it yourself, expose the Netflix Community/Friends through a decent API. The world will develop the functionality for you and do a much better job at it.
    Have you been living under a rock for the last 5 years?

  135. For what it's worth I have been a Netflix member for many years. I love it. I have never used the Friend feature. I applaud software that is willing to remove unsuccessful features. Even if it's not obvious to the users it is often costly to maintain internally and can even make it difficult to add other features. Perhaps it even opens the opportunity for it to be added again one day in a way that makes it more popular.

  136. Todd there will be consequences for your poor decisions.

  137. Susan, that's nice that you applaud the removal of "unsuccsesful features." However, your insular experience on Netflix and resulting myopic viewpoint is hardly any indication that these features were unsuccessful. The sheer volume of comments reflecting disappointment over their removal clearly indicates the opposite. Hope this helps.

  138. Smart movie! Cater to the lowest common denominator. Brilliant strategy!!! Quantity over quality! Have you learned nothing about customer loyalty during these times?

    thanks for being upfront again with the people that have kept you in business...this stinks of the whole "new release" debacle you had a couple of years ago.

    Do you even use netflix to watch movies? Is the reason that your killing the friends function, because you have no friends? I'm sure you would get some if you kept the unbroken application in place, instead of "phasing" it out!

    Big corporations are always f-ing up a good thing! Hope this works out for you...i have a feeling your going to regret this, like how i'm regretting keeping your service....for the time being!

  139. I absolutely don't buy that "less that 2 percent" of members utilize the friends feature of netflix--was this information procured by some sort of survey?

    I have 6 or 7 friends myself, and I find out about a lot of interesting movies by scanning their queue every now and then, and I like to send out movie notes.

    This is a poorly thought out move. How much money can keeping the friends feature cost? I've been a netflix member since 2007, and when my current gift certificate runs out, I'm going to downgrade to the lowest possible plan.

    Netflix Management--Reverse your decision. And someone needs to start a facebook campaign against this.

  140. Way to value your most vocal customers Todd. We are the people who turned people onto you. We will also be the people that turn people onto a better service.

  141. Susan - let me guess: you live with cats?

    But seriously, you never used it. Did you even know it was there? Apparently you were one of the 98%'ers. Your comment about "maybe it will come back again improved", is the whole point of the issue. It shouldn't have to come back again, improved! It's fine like it was and when it had it's own tab at the top of the page and since you never used it, you wouldn't know if it was improved.

  142. How do explain something to a person that sees the world solely by statistics and has no idea about vision? You're doomed Todd, enjoy that box you live in.

  143. You guys never learn do you? The first rule of developing software for customers is that you can never remove a feature. All it ever does is piss off your userbase, even the ones who weren't using that feature. Divert resources currently supporting the 'friends' feature means its too costly either in terms of development maintenance or server load. Either option points to either hapless developers, a horrific codebase or both. Fix your dev process and stop trying to take shit away from your customers.

  144. It seems now that Blockbuster is careening toward bankruptcy, NF has less motivation to keep customers satisfied. Between the Warner Bros decision and phasing out Friends features, NF has decreased the value of membership.

    The Top 10 Lists are a wonderful feature for those of us who like to like to discover lesser-known films. Most of the movies on my queue come from two sources: the All New Releases page, which was similarly buried but is thankfully still active, and the Top 10 Lists.

    As others have pointed out, user generated content is inexpensive and this move is likely related to NF cutting back on DVD inventory in favor of Blu-Ray and Instant Watching. I'm disappointed because I don't own a Blu-Ray player or a video game console and my cheap little laptop is not really sufficient for watching a movie. As NF reduces DVD inventory, people like myself will have less options.

  145. Here's a link to a new Facebook group protesting the Netflix decision to phase out the Friends feature.

    "Keep the Friends Feature on Netflix"!/group.php?gid=10150156209090440&ref=nf

    Join up.

  146. Friends was/is precisely the area where you should have been directing resources.

    You have lost sight of what made your service stand out. Hint: it's not the movies, they are easily obtained elsewhere (for free I might add).

    The potential for friend functionality was off the charts (fb integration for instance) and you blew it.

  147. Todd, you shifty gypsy, you suck. I don't buy the 2% population number at all. All of my friends use this feature, leave notes and rate movies. Why not get rid of the ridiculous local favorites or suggestions features. I use those every new millennium. The friends feature is one of, if not the best thing Netflix has going.

  148. I am betting less than 2% of users actually spend the time to write reviews, which contributes to NF content and helps all users, so is that going away also? Maybe not by NF choice, but from what I am seeing that will happen, and WILL impact all users since is used by so many.

  149. Thank you for this explanation.

    I'm curious how you evaluate the usage of the Friend features when the main 'in your face' aspect is a passive one in that you just see how friends rated movies, but don't directly interact with it. This was by far the most useful aspect for me, but I don't think there was ever any way for me to show you I used this as you don't really click or mouse over it or interact otherwise.

    In my opinion if you can keep this, but kill the main Friend UI that would suffice for a lot.

  150. I'm pretty sure they (Netflix) used this same "only 2%" statistic when they tried to kill the Account Profiles feature. Either their engineers are idiots and cannot get the numbers right or their marketing team is full of liars, because every one of my friends with Netflix has heard of and uses this feature.

  151. I joined the FB group to protest the deletion of the friends feature. Only 2% of the global population is on Facebook, so we should probably destroy it. ;)!/group.php?gid=10150156209090440&ref=nf

  152. Odsin: Let's not assume that everyone is an idiot ok?

    It's highly likely that your social group is very different than other social groups. Tech savy people make up for a very very small % of all internet users, so our usage patterns are not indicative of the general internet population.

  153. Micah: FB is more like 8% I think. 400M users out of what 6B people, and that counts people without internet access? The 2% is all NetFlix users not ALL people also :)

    Facebook has also removed features because only a small percent of their users used them. It's smart business

  154. Sure I might not look at the friends page every day, but I've loved seeing reviews and pushing reviews to my friends. I like to see what they have at home and sometimes will contact them and ask how a particular movie or series is.

    So, maintaining a database table and a little web code is too much for you?

    Weak sauce.

  155. If Netflix only had 1 million customers, (according to Wikipedia it's more like 10 million), and if all of their customers were only on the 1 DVD out at a time plan at $8.99 a month, (most people, Netflix says, are on the 2 or 3 plan at $13.99 and $16.99), that would be $107,880,000 a year. If they really do have 10 million customers, that's at least $1,078,800,000 a year. That's right... over 1 billion dollars. Surely with all that money they could afford to hire a couple of people to maintain the Friends feature. Maybe they could hire back a few of those 50 people they laid off because that piece of shit Silverlight was so scary good.

  156. 24 friends....4000 notes since I joined. I have been your biggest champion. And you pushed Friends hard when you rolled it out. But You lose, Netflix, on a feature that actually helped your production by circulating discs within a given geography of Friends, sharing the good news of great flix (remember the sudden rise of Crash?), and building your matching algorithm by rating what "people like me" like. All data and traffic you could be using to your advantage.

    I will not make a big show of leaving. Netflix is still the broadest online film catalog with the best services and fees. I will not look for you to be the company that understands people who love The Movies. We did find on our own all this time.

  157. @shanmc: I was being facetious.

    Netflix stocks were at $20 when I joined, and they're now over $70 ... and they don't have the money to pay two guys to enter code to keep the Friends Feature going?

    Google is trying to get social networking going with their debut of Buzz last month, and here's Netflix destroying theirs just a few weeks later. Huh?

  158. Well, I'm less than 2% impressed with your decision, Netflix. Therefore, I think I'll be looking for a new service.

    With social networking becoming more and more the hype, why would you think this is a good decision?


  159. I have only been a member for a couple of months and was very impressed with the web site. I was just getting use to using all the features and was trying to find where to create a profile, set up friends, and leave reviews. I thought this was the most innovated site for entertainment on the net. Now I see that it is destine to model Hulu or Youtube. Then why pay?

  160. What else will be phased out?? Doesn't Netflix realize that people will now be less likely to write reviews, rate movies, and set preferences? Why bother when those things might be eliminated too? Maybe Netflix just doesn't care.

  161. Netflix could have handled it better by letting us KNOW that it was going away. But as for me, even though I set it up with my friends, I never actually used the friends featuere.

    Now if Netflix would take some of the resources that was being use for the friends feature to make sure that we can get a SUBTITLES or CLOSED CAPTION option on streaming content -- I'd be super happy.

  162. This is wrong. I wonder what percent of movie ratings come from Friends users. Or what percent of referrals come from Friends users.

  163. So making more movies available through streaming is all that matters? You say you're taking away a feature and don't say whether you thought it was worthwhile or suggest an alternative, which suggests you know nothing about it and only pretend to care. You don't "owe" us patronizing non-answers. So only 2% are using Friends to choose which movie to watch. What about Faves? And what are the other 98% doing? Using the Movies You'll Love? Using the "More like..." feature? What percentage of those people agree with the recommendations that come from those vs. those that come from Friends. I'll bet its higher for Friends and Faves.

    Is this a first step toward getting out of the recommendations business altogether? Are you saying that people are so uncritical that they're content with just about any movie they happen to come upon and thus improving that is a waste of money? Or are they just unwilling to invest the time to improve their success rate? How do you know? Are your recommendations so unsuccessful that you're giving up on them? If so, let us know rather than just trying to pacify us, so can we can stop wasting our time trying to help you.

    Other services that I'll be trying for recommendations: Flixster, Jinni, LikeMinds, criticker, FilmAffinity, Listal, VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever, and MovieLens.

  164. Honestly the new site is about as useful as wandering aimlessly looking for a needle in a haystack. Are you trying to discourage users from finding movies they are interested in?

  165. I think one of the reasons that so few people appear to use the friend features is that they're impossibly hard to find. Perhaps if they had been made more prominent instead of eliminated, they'd see better usership. I know that I have tons of friends who use netflix, and I bet they'd love to see what everybody else they know is watching and what they love.

    At least improve facebook integration or something. Give us some way to communicate with our friends about the movies we love.

  166. We were the first adopters and we'll be the first the leave. Hope you don't mind us bringing everybody else with us. Sounds like you are getting a little too complacent in your job. Remember when you couldn't find somebody who wasn't on Myspace, not so much anymore.

  167. What are we paying for again? The queue? IMDB does that for free.

    The movies are all out there for free.

    The community aspect was what distinguished the service. That WAS how I found movies to watch. If you remove the community functionality you provide no useful service and you expect me to pay for that. Yeah right!

  168. Maybe something less than total destruction of the Friends network could be considered? There are lots of bells and whistles in the Friends page I never use. (That scrolling box of random people's ratings that rools by faster than I can read it? No thanks.)

    I really only need one key item back (beyond the basic ability to invite and add friends). Bring back the element that used to appear on every movie page that told me

    a) Which of my Netflix friends have seen this movie; and
    b) What they rated it.

    I miss it every time I go to the Netflix site now, and every time my blood boils a little.

  169. You are a business. The bottom line is number one. I understand that.

    This is a horrible business decision.

    Even if it is only 2% of your users which use these features, it's not really 2% of your users. It's: What %age of your total revenue do these features bring in?

    These users will cajole their friends into using the service, maybe even buy them gift subscriptions, buy a bigger plan, and retain the service longer.

    I have gotten so many of my friends to sign up for netflix and all your clickstream datamining would never know it.

    I will now tell all my same friends why Netflix sucks and they should quit just like I am. Good luck shooting yourselves in the foot.

  170. I've rated about 5000 movies and have written about 250 lengthy movie reviews for films that had zero to a handful of reviews; why should I continue to volunteer my time and thought for a company that cares so little about its most ardent movie fans? If only the three top-rated reviews are highlighted, followed by others in order of appearance (with a surfeit of one-line reviews that say little more than "It s*cked"), then why bother to write or read members' reviews? If I can't get or send recommendations or find little-known gems on others' lists, why bother to stay with this service? I'm reopening my account at GreenCine and cutting my subscription at Netflix down from 8 movies at a time to 1 (just for the sake of the small number of films that Netflix has and Greencine doesn't).

  171. This is a bad move on Netflix's part. While they say that only 2% of the users use this feature, they fail to consider the fact that this 2% may be the most enthusiastic Netflix users. By removing features without explanation, deleting their comments on the official blog post, and then generally saying that we don't matter because we are only 2% of the users, this has the potential to be a bigger problem for Netflix.
    Also, how are they determining a "user" of the Friends feature. If all I am doing is checking my friends ratings on each film's page, I may not be considered a "user" of the Friends feature, but I still may get a lot out of it.

  172. I guess I'm one of the few that does not care about this feature.

    I really don't care if the feature disappears. Yeah it is cool to see my friend's queue to see if they have something that I might like but I can always use IMDb for research.

    As long as they don't screw up & not ship my movies on time I'm happy. I have 800+ movies on my Queue & 400 on instant so is not like I don't have enough to watch so eh..

    If something like that bothers you so much then maybe is time to turn off the tv & go out & play outside.

    -Happy Netflix far

  173. Way to take a step backwards. IMO, it was just a poorly executed feature. Almost all my friends who use Netflix didn't even know the Friends feature existed. Back to Web 1.0 with you.

  174. I'm Just Sayin....March 18, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    I am thoroughly disappointed in the phasing out of the friends feature on Netflix. I have friends who joined Netflix AFTER the friends feature tab had been moved to the bottom of the page and were/are unaware as to how to use the friends features that were once a major componenet of the site. Had they been informed, there is a good chance they would be using that part of the site more. Now that there is a facebook connect, and considering the HUGE SUCCESS of social networking sites in general, I urge you to rethink this phasing out. Considering the number of member profiles that have hundreds of friends I find it highly unlikely that only 2% of users use the friends features. If anything, please add "what your friends thought" to the movie details page. I care more about what my friends think about movies than critics.

  175. Become a fan of "BRING BACK FRIENDS" on facebook!

  176. Become a fan of "BRING BACK FRIENDS" on facebook!


    someone else posted a link to The Auteurs above, I'd like to second that recommendation with a screenshot:

    that's right folks - friends and lists!

    I basically ignore Netflix's recommendation these days anyway, so I'm officially done rating movies on Netflix. Netflix seems to want to push me towards using their site as a queue manager only - so be it. All my reviews and ratings are going elsewhere.

  178. Hey Todd: You really ought to make a copy of the comments made by the hard core Netflix users on this blog. It will give you something to read while you're standing in the unemployment line.
    You have ignored the number one rule in business: make your best customers happy; they will bring you more and better business.
    All companies who have ignored their hard core base to achieve short term profits end up in chapter 11 or worse; they get taken over by the Federal Government. Is that your real, hidden goal? Obamaflix?
    Did you take ANY business courses in school?
    One more thing: If you expect people to swallow your lies; you'll have to do a lot better in the believability department. Maybe an adviser is what you need. I don't think Bill Clinton is that busy right now.
    With you at the helm, NETFLIX will shortly become EXFLIX.

  179. Oh ok, well with that said, I will be canceling my NF account and going over to green cine. Way to go, what a way to lose customers... but I guess you don't care about that because you obviously think that you have the movie rental thing monopolized and don't have to worry about losing customers or better yet falling down and going boom. Nah Nah Nah Nah, hey hey hey, GOOOODBYEEE!!

  180. Oh ok, well with that said, I will be canceling my NF account and going over to green cine. Way to go, what a way to lose customers... but I guess you don't care about that because you obviously think that you have the movie rental thing monopolized and don't have to worry about losing customers or better yet falling down and going boom. Nah Nah Nah Nah, hey hey hey, GOOOODBYEEE!!

  181. The site is considerably less useful without being able to see my friends' ratings of movies. I am pretty disappointed this great feature is going away.

    Also, the 'limited resource' excuse doesn't quite ring true. I hope more 'resources' can be found to keep the useful and fun Friends features.

  182. I've never heard of the "friends" feature and have no plans to use it now that I've heard of it. So, carry on..........LOL.

  183. Dear Netflix,
    I've been a member since 2003 (nick: Gaius Marius) and this is truly a disappointment. The Friends/Community is the feature that makes your service stand above the rest and is the key reason I recommend Netflix to others. The reason my queue is huge is due to recommendations, notes, and reviews by Friends and like minded Netflix users. By removing the Community feature, you'll only see my queue dwindle until I no longer need your service. You'll also find that the amount of user generated reviews will fall away as well. In this day and age of social media, the fact that you are killing it on your site is baffling.

  184. You guys are fucking retarded!

  185. I cancelled Netflix already because Watch Instantly doesn't work on Linux and thus has no value for me anymore.

    But the removal of the Friends feature seems pretty silly. There's not a lot of latitude for decisions like this one these days when anyone can watch content via Hulu, Boxee, XBMC etc and whatever comes out tomorrow.

  186. My frustration has already been manifested in everyones comments a thousand ways over, but I will say this:

    Entire online empires have been built around the notion of "friends." The sense of community with others. Honestly, you should reevaluate why you think many people joined this service over the past few years (or how they joined; via Friends). Netflix without friends is just a Redbox with an internet connection.

    It's alright though, like others, it's just making my transition easier to supporting my local, non-franchised, DVD rental house.

    And if any of you are located in Los Angeles, especially the downtown area, check out Old Bank DVD on 4th St. They have a great selection.

  187. What do you think's going to happen when people go looking elsewhere looking for movie recommendations? If users don't simply switch to GreenCine, Blockbuster, Facets, Animelane, Cinflix, TigerCinema, etc. directly (many of which offer pay-per-rental subscriptions rather than monthly), they'll go to social networking-type sites that will partner with these competitors. On IMDb pages, already there's a link next to every movie to rent it from Blockbuster. So you're giving a bunch of smart, avid users the brush off and sending them to build up your competitors' services and badmouth yours. Good move.

    And good luck with the streaming you think you can convert everyone to so quickly. Let's see it match Blu-ray in quality when ISPs keep trying to lower bandwidth caps. And let's see how happy these 50% of users are when subtitles don't work or their connection goes down while they're in the middle of watching a movie. Or how well navigating DVD extras works through your interface. I'm glad streaming is being worked on, but it won't be ready to replace Blu-rays anytime soon.

  188. I feel cheated. I am in no way a "power-user" but I relied heavily on the friend's feature to keep up with my movie watching online buddies. There are those of us on NF who make/made great online friendships with other NF users. Most of the time, these are people we probably would have never met if it weren't for the NF friends feature. I hope NF will reevaluate it's plans for the removal.

  189. Hmm, I wonder if that means you'll have time to make your instant viewing compatible with the Opera browser now? FYI, Opera works with Silverlight just fine, but only if *YOUR* website uses the right object tags. So could you do something about that, since instant viewing seems to be so important to you? I don't like having to switch to Firefox every time I want to watch a goddamn movie.

  190. "Dropped the Ball" is one gentle euphemism. As one of the "2 percent" that uses the Friends feature, I believe NF is making a HUGE mistake. I mean come on, it's basically free publicity in the form of user-generated reviews that encourage other members to check out films they wouldn't normally even hear about. In light of NF's success, surely you can spare some of your "Limited Resources" to keep a service that is, at least to me, one of the greatest features that NF offers. This could be a deal-breaker for a LOT of your customers. Keep that in mind.

  191. i use the friend feature to make fun of what my friends rent. don't take what little joy i have in this world away from me.


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