Note: This method doesn’t work anymore as Netflix has removed the friends feature from the website.
Netflix is a wonderful service, certainly better than Blockbuster Online (especially their customer service, which I’m writing about in future blog post).
Netflix has a bunch of awesome features.
Here are two of my favorites:
- Netflix gives users the ability to create separate profiles for members in a family in order to maintain separate movie queues. This is great if you don’t want your family members’ movies clogging up the works. Netflix will alternate between the different profiles, sending DVDs in turn. Fair enough.
- With Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature, you’re able to watch films instantly right at your computer instead of waiting for them to arrive in the mail. Even better, there are many devices—XBox 360, Roku, TiVo, Blu-Ray players—that support instant streaming directly to a television. And the quality is quite impressive.
But there’s a major problem when you try to combine those features.
When my friend Michelle explained to me that Netflix allows multiple user profiles, I amazed (Blockbuster Online can’t do this). However, after setting up a separate user profile and borrowing a Roku streaming device from a friend, I was upset to discover that I could only access the main profile queue. The other user’s queue weren’t there. After some research I discovered that Netflix limits Watch Instantly to only the main profile1.
Why is this a major problem? Because I was looking into purchasing a Roku so I could steam movies directly to my TV. Separate family members would have to add all the movies they want to their queue—which can take hours depending on how many movies they want to add—but if they want to watch movies instantly on the Roku (or any streaming device), they would have to re-add them, one by one, to the main profile’s Instant Queue. That’s tedious and absurd, and there should be an easier solution.
There are a few solutions to this problem that should—but don’t—work.
The easiest solution to this problem would be a family member’s profile having the ability to add movies to the main account’s Instant Queue. But you can’t do that.
Another solution would be to see if a movie is even able to be added to the Instant Queue on the main profile. But you can’t do that, either.
There is a solution that works, but I would have never thought of it.
Thanks to the highly intelligent TiVo Community Forums users for this solution:
- Go into each family profile and add the main profile as a Netflix friend.
- Log into the main profile and accept the invitation(s).
- Now you can view each family members’ profile, see which movies are available for instant viewing, and easily add them to your instant queue.
Essentially, if you have more than one profile on your Netflix account, and you want to be able to watch movies instantly, you have to add them to the main profile’s queue. And the easiest way to do this is to add your other family members as Netflix friends and view their queue. Otherwise, you’ll have to add them manually. But the downside to this is that you won’t know if they’re even available for Watch Instantly until after you’ve added them. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best solution as of now2.
Have you had problems with this? Does this solution help you? Let me know in the comments.
- Why? When I called Netflix, they told me that it had to do with the licensing agreements with the studios. I think that’s fancy talk for, “We don’t want you to add separate queues for people that don’t live in your house, giving them the ability to watch movies, too,” which makes sense, because you could make separate queues for all of your friends and they could watch movies instantly without having to pay. [↩]
- I spoke to a Netflix representative over the phone and told them that there should be a much easier way for entire families to add movies to the Watch Instantly queue, but who knows when and if they’ll be able to do this. [↩]