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Netflix Finally Proposes to Facebook

After a long and sometimes troubled courtship, two of the biggest names in media finally agreed upon a domestic partnership: Netflix and Facebook will join forces to let all of your “friends” who also have streaming accounts know exactly what you’ve watched in the past and what you’re watching at any given moment.

We see this as a bigger deal for Netflix than Facebook, since the world’s largest social network is a perfect promotional venue for the world’s largest members-only streaming service (despite the fact that all of the “sharing” will take place on the Netflix site itself). And while we have no doubt that this announcement amounts to a PR win for Netflix, we do see some potential problems emerging:

As TechCrunch points out, this setup doesn’t really work if every member of a given family uses Netflix, because no one wants to see what his or her friends’ kids watch–and we don’t want to have to explain for the twentieth time that it’s our roommate who likes Kathy Griffin. A second point: Most Netflix users will tire of seeing the same friends’ viewing histories–that’s a whole lot of data to scroll through. If Netflix really wants to encourage users to watch more content, they’ll probably figure out a way to shuffle it up.

On the other hand, Netflix has clearly learned from Facebook’s mistakes: users can more directly determine which individual titles they share with their friends. And this isn’t YouTube, so we can’t imagine anything too embarrassing making its way onto our “recently viewed” list. Also: since content owners earn royalties each time someone streams their properties on Netflix, we have a feeling struggling filmmakers could find a way to use this new feature promote their own material.

The most important question: Will the move further solidify Netflix’s position at the head of the streaming video pack?

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