Adrian Cockcroft, Director of Web Engineering at Netflix, posted the following on the Netflix Community forum:
The Netflix site was designed without profiles, then features were added continuously for a few years, then profiles were added, but with minimum disruption to existing features, rather than a ground-up redesign, then a few more years of features were added over the top.
Now in some ways its too messy and its slowing down our ability to change and add new features, so a lot of investment is going into cleaning up the code. Part of that cleanup is to simplify and re-implement things so that we can get more interesting and advanced things done more quickly in the future. For this feature that is used by a percent or two of the user base, it will make cleanup a lot faster by removing it.
When profiles were invented, most users were on multiple-disc plans. More recently we have added one-disc plans, and a lot of users are on those plans and can't use profiles, even though they have the same needs.
Todd Yellin, a Netflix Product Manager, posted the following on the Netflix Community Blog (there are more than 750 comments on his post):
As a Netflix product manager I'm tasked with the wonderful job of helping members find movies they'll love. But today my job is more challenging as we've decided to terminate the profiles feature on September 1. Please know that the motivation is solely driven by keeping our service as simple and as easy to use as possible. Too many members found the feature difficult to understand and cumbersome, having to consistently log in and out of the website.
Continuing to maintain the profiles feature for the passionate few who use it (including myself) distracts us from the mission of presenting to all our members the easiest way to find the best titles for them from the 100k plus on DVD and the 10k plus available instantly.
We will do our best to find better ways for families to share accounts than the existing profiles feature and will continue to invest in improving the website experience in many different ways.
Several sources have suggested that around 1% of Netflix customers are using Profiles, or about 80,000 customers out of more than 8 million. Netflix has a feature, loved by a small group of users, that is slowing down the rollout of new features for 99% of their customers.
The bottom line is that Netflix kludged Profiles, and while they know they're going annoy a small (and vocal) group of customers, they want to build a new way for people to share accounts. There are other ways multiple users with one account can manage reviews, queues (DVD & Watch Instantly), ratings, and recommendations.
The one thing Netflix should have done was share the new Profiles strategy with existing users, and provided a way to migrate existing Profiles to the new system.
I will miss Profiles, but I look forward to seeing what Netflix will replace it with. What do you think?