I love Netflix, but more than once their data policies have forced me to reconsider whether or not I should continue my subscription. You see, I believe that when you rate a movie, the data should belong to you. After all, you were the one that spent the time to input the rating and it’s personal to your tastes. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that once you get past 100 ratings, you can’t even find two rating profiles that are identical.
Netflix on the other hand, seems to feel that they own your ratings data and have guarded it closely. This wouldn’t be so important, if Netflix was the only movie site out there, but because they refuse to implement many web 2.0 features, there are many other movie sites that consumers may prefer.
Because I have memberships with about a dozen of these sites, it has created an awkward and cumbersome situation where I’m forced to to maintain a dozen different sets of ratings, instead of being able to sync them all together. Since even small differences in how you rate a movie can have a big impact on the recommendations that you receive, whoever is able to get a consumer to input the most ratings is given a powerful moat around their subscribers.
For a long time, Netflix kept their silo closed, but about nine months ago, they opened up their API to outside developers. At the time, I saw this as a watershed event because it marked a change in philosophy from one of control to one allowing for innovation, inside or outside of Netflix’s site. If you go their developer site, you’ll see that they still encourage people to use ratings data to create cool apps.
The Netflix API allows developers full access to our catalog of movies and actors, and–when properly authorized–subscriber data, such as queues, ratings, rental history, and reviews.
Regrettably, after opening up this data to outside developers, Netflix has apparently changed their tune and is now trying to take away this feature from their customers. For example, here’s an email I received from Jinni.com,
Hi Davis Freeberg,
Since March, we’ve offered an option to connect your Netflix account with Jinni. Until now, an optional feature has been importing ratings, so Jinni can quickly learn about your taste and recommend only movies you haven’t seen. Unfortunately, Netflix has demanded that we remove the import ratings feature. If you already imported your ratings, they will stay on Jinni.