With last week's passage of the video privacy protection act, the door is finally open for Netflix to integrate Facebook sharing into its online video service in the U.S. That's a big win for Netflix's lobbying team. They've been fighting for years to allow U.S. users to share details from their streaming queues.
Let's get integrated
The two tech companies are already pretty close. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is, after all, one of just six outside directors who sit on Facebook's board.
And Facebook sharing is a big part of Netflix's global service. It's integrated into all of the company's international regions, including Canada and Latin America. Sure, that only amounts to 4 million out of Netflix's 30 million streamers. But that small-scale rollout has gone well. In fact, here's how Hastings described the early response to Facebook integration back in the second quarter of last year: "[I]t's been very successful in the U.K. We've been very pleased with those results, and now we're trying to -- we are continuing to try to figure out how to make it legal for U.S. consumers to get access to that."
Netflix had been pushing for this legislation for the better part of two years. And it wasn't an easy fight, or cheap. The company spent more than $1 million on lobbying expenses over the past two years, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Sharing is the missing piece
Still, it looks like a worthwhile investment. Social sharing is a key part of most all Internet services, and it has been a glaring hole in the online video space. That's never been a problem for music. Pandora users have long had the ability to share their streaming feeds. Ditto for mobile devices. Facebook is tightly integrated with Apple's iOS.
Streaming movies and TV is a natural fit for social applications, just like music or mobile. And its coming to Netflix's 25 million U.S. streaming members soon.