Netflix Rolls Out 'Friends' Feature on Web Site
Netflix Inc on Thursday previewed a new Web feature that the online DVD rental company hopes will keep subscribers loyal as it works toward its pledge to reach 4 million subscribers by the end of 2005.
The free service, called "friends," allows subscribers to share their DVD picks with others who have Netflix accounts so that friends can monitor each other's movie habits.
Netflix rolled out a preview version of the service this week, and plans to launch "friends" for its 2.3 million subscribers in January, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings told Reuters on Thursday.
"It allows our users to share and communicate and discover a love of movies," Hastings said. "We've only scratched the surface of how to use the Internet to enhance the movie experience."
Netflix, which pioneered online DVD rental and holds about 9 percent of the market, slashed its subscription price last month to fend off competition from Blockbuster Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc . Netflix officials said they were girding for a likely challenge from Amazon.com Inc .
In October, Netflix announced a costly plan that calls for the company to run at break-even and keep its prices low while spending more money to attract and keep subscribers.
The plan appears to be working. Netflix recently revised upward its fourth-quarter guidance for subscriber acquisitions by at least 150,000 to reflect strong growth and lower churn.
"Subscriber growth has exceeded our expectation," Hastings said. "What you will see over the next two years is innovation. We continue to blaze the path of how movies can be enjoyed."