Streaming giant Netflix (NFLX 0.23%) just opened up its profile-moving features. You already knew it was coming, and you knew exactly why. Now all the details are out in the open, and you can take this idea for a spin right now.

Let me show you a couple of details about this feature that weren't obvious before, and what these quirks might mean for Netflix and its shareholders.

What's the big idea?

The profile transfer element was first introduced to a subset of Netflix subscribers in March 2022. Customers in Peru, Costa Rica, and Chile saw this feature arrive alongside an experimental password-sharing crackdown.

It was always obvious that the ability to move profile details from one account to another was meant to support the creation of brand-new subscriptions. You don't want to lose as much as a decade's worth of video-streaming viewing history, tweaked account settings, and other Netflix-specific data just because your living situation changed and you need to set up a new Netflix account. Simply copying that data from one account to another should smooth out that transition, removing one potential speed bump on the road to an independent Netflix subscription.

Some unexpected oddities

The profile transfer is impressively complete. It goes beyond the basic user information, viewing history, thumbs-up and thumbs-down ratings, and the "My List" collection of bookmarked titles. You also get to keep preferences such as subtitle and autoplay settings, not to mention saved games for Netflix's small but growing collection of mobile gaming titles.

The information is not exactly moved. Instead, you copy it from an existing Netflix account to start a new one, and the original data also stays available to the original account. To complete a true transfer, you have to also delete the first account's instance of that profile.

I'm surprised to see that you can't pass the data over from one existing account to another. For example, imagine that two people with their own Netflix accounts meet, fall in love, and move in together. One of them is destined to lose their viewing history, etc. They could pay Netflix for two accounts in the same household, but that would create headaches with logging in and out of different accounts on the living room TV. That's a weird choice for a pretty common use case.

Netflix won't let you copy some accounts. Specifically, age-restricted Kid profiles and PIN-protected profiles are a no-go. The immovable nature of Kid profiles makes sense since you have to start a new account during the transfer. PIN-shielded accounts can still do it, but only after removing the extra privacy that the second-level PIN login offers.

Here, Netflix is doing its level best to respect the enhanced privacy of PIN-protected accounts. The fact that you can't just push a single button to bypass that protection suggests that the company doesn't let other processes access privacy-boosted profiles -- even if the request came from the same account. Whether or not it's technically possible to skip the PIN safeguard for the sake of convenience, Netflix erred on the side of higher security. That's a good choice.

Netflix logo on a stone wall.

Image source: Netflix.

One final twist (and it's an important one)

Finally, you have to turn on the profile-moving feature before you can access it -- the new feature starts out in a disabled state for each account. And there's one more eccentric detail on the table. The profile-sharing status won't stay on forever. Instead, Netflix says that it will be turned off after two years.

That's more than enough to transfer a few profiles out of your account without having to go through the initial steps more than once. On the other hand, anything less than a permanent on switch makes me think that Netflix doesn't want users to keep this feature enabled all the time. This could be a subtle push to encourage them to pay for "extra members" under one master account instead of pushing them out to completely separate subscriptions.

I'm jumping to the conclusion (it's good fun and great for your cardiovascular health!) that Netflix expects extra members to be a more effective revenue stream than the ad-supported entry-level plan for cost-sensitive members.

Maybe that's just wishful thinking since I'm not thrilled about Netflix's upcoming adventures in advertising. Regardless, the specifics of this profile-sharing feature are not written in stone and Netflix will probably tweak them as needed over time. Investors should keep an eye on this.

Any change that makes transferred profiles better, faster, or easier is arguably a vote of confidence in those newfangled low-end accounts. Moves in the opposite direction -- or no changes at all -- would suggest that extra members are more desirable.

So now it's time to wait and see where Netflix is going with these ideas. Extra butter on my popcorn, please. This will be interesting.