Lost in Netflix's (Nasdaq: NFLX ) September of muck was a move that would integrate sharing Netflix data through Facebook. The offering went live in 43 of the 44 countries where Netflix offers its video streaming service. The long holdout was the United States.
It wasn't that Netflix didn't want to incorporate this viral and sticky feature in its largest market. An outdated law from the 1980s just didn't make it possible legally. The situation wasn't widely publicized, largely because this materialized just days after the Qwikster fiasco.
Well, Facebook sharing should soon be available in all 44 of Netflix's markets.
H.R. 2471 -- the House bill that Netflix was asking subscribers to get behind back in September -- cleared its first hurdle. The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill that will allow sharing as long as a service obtains prior consent. If the Senate follows through, we may soon see Netflix as a more engaging viral service between friends and family members on Facebook.
Netflix realizes that it has to keep evolving. Even if it hadn't suffered the brutal wakeup calls in the wake of the Qwikster and price-hike fiascoes, Netflix can't afford to stand still. This year has seen Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) and Dish Network's (Nasdaq: DISH ) Blockbuster roll out unlimited streaming services. Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) is reportedly jumping in next year. They're not Netflix. Amazon's selection is too limited, and Blockbuster Movie Pass is only limited to Dish members. However, they are here -- and Netflix can't rest on its laurels.
Too much change is not a good thing
No one is suggesting that moving too fast is a winning strategy. Netflix has painfully learned that this year, too.
It's a lesson that Netflix may still be learning.
Netflix rolled out an update for Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Xbox platform yesterday. Going by some of the initial comments on Netflix's blog, it hasn't been a very well received update. Buggy controls and the elimination of the "party" feature that allows Xbox friends with Netflix to watch a stream simultaneously are rubbing Xbox users the wrong way.
There's always a natural level of dissension when something is changed, but it's ironic if Netflix is killing the "party" feature as the same time that it's encouraging data sharing on Facebook.
Will Netflix ever get it right across the board? It seems as if every step forward is followed by two steps back.
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