Why Netflix Can't Stream Video On Facebook In The U.S.

Netflix is streaming video on Facebook in 47 countries, but the U.S. still isn't one of them. We blame the Senate.

Netflix is streaming video on Facebook in 47 countries, but the U.S. still isn’t one of them.

The movie rental outfit’s plan to add the U.S. to Facebook streaming hinges on a legislative change that has crashed and burned.

Well, to be fair, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that pleased all parties involved, but the Senate never picked it up.

Instead, the Senate introduced the widely loathed Stop Online Piracy Act, and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, both protested so vocally on social media that proponents have dropped the proposed legislation.

The two Senate bills took on a much broader set of issues than the one that passed the House, which had simply focused on enabling the sharing of video rental information.

The outdated Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 still prohibits this, which explains why none of us in the U.S. sees Facebook news feed updates saying what our friends are watching on Netflix.

The Netflix application on Facebook has 870,000 active users on a monthly basis, which only seems like a small number when compared with the total number of Netflix subscribers worldwide: 26.6 million. More to the point, 21.6 million of them are U.S.-based and have video streaming in their accounts.

In yesterday’s earnings announcement, Netflix revealed that the latest quarter in the U.S. brought in 220,000 new streaming subscriptions and saw it lose 2.7 million DVD subscribers. Americans want to stream video online, not exchange discs in the mail.

If Americans gained the ability to share information about their Netflix usage on Facebook, the video company’s monthly active user count on the social network could easily make it into the top 20 rankings.

And that begs the question: What’s Netflix doing to try to motivate the U.S. Senate to adopt a bill close enough to the one passed by the House of Representatives so that we can all see in our Facebook news feeds what movies our friends are watching?

I’ve asked that very question to both Netflix and Facebook communications staff. The latter told me this is something to ask the former, which could only tell me what we’ve already reported here.

Perhaps it’s time for a viral communications effort rivaling the scope of the SOPA/PIPA protest: We should designate a date for everyone to post status updates and messages on other social media networks asking the U.S. Senate to approve H.R. 2471, or something close enough to it that we could see our friends’ video watching habits in our Facebook news feeds.

Who’s with me on this, readers?