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Netflix Begins Testing User Profiles on Apple TV

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Update 8/1/13: Netflix profiles are no longer in a testing phase. The company began rolling them out today for subscribers using iOS devices, gaming consoles, and newer connected TVs and Blu-ray players. More devices will follow. Each account can have up to five profiles.

Some Apple TV owners received a surprise when signing onto Netflix. The subscription video-on-demand leader is starting to experiment with user profiles, something it announced and demonstrated at the E3 conference in June of this year, and it's starting on the Apple TV. With profiles, every member of a subscribing household gets their own profile and their own avatar. Having individual profiles will be a boon to content recommendation: Right now, Netflix recommends titles based on a household's total viewing activity. That waters down the results and makes quality recommendations less likely. With profiles, viewers will get recommendations tailored for them. Netflix says that Apple TV owners who had already set up profiles when using the DVD-by-mail service will now see them show up on the Apple TV.

Profiles will also be a help to parents who don't like the idea of their children having unregulated access to Netflix's full library. While Netflix has parental controls currently, the setting applies to everyone in the household using the service and can only be changed on a computer.

Subscribers without Apple TVs (or who aren't in the test group) shouldn't have to wait long for profiles to appear. The company says it will roll out the feature to all its subscribers later this summer. 

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