Netflix Gets Social, Adds Facebook

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Netflix ( NFLX) just got a lot more social.

The Internet television company announced it has integrated its service with Facebook ( FB), allowing its streaming members in the U.S. to link their Netflix accounts to Facebook, the company said on its blog.

This is something Netflix lobbied Congress for for years, only recently getting approval for it. President Obama signed the new Video Privacy Protection Act into law in January.

The integration allows Netflix members to see what their friends have watched, using the new "Friends' Favorites" and "Watched by your friends" rows to their account. It also allows users the ability to share what they are watching, should they chose to, which could be a great thing for Netflix, said Hudson Square Research analyst Dan Ernst.

"I think it's a great feature for Netflix," Ernst said in a phone interview. "Adding social recommendations is one of the more useful features for Netflix. I think it makes a lot of sense."

While this isn't likely to be a meaningful change to either company in the short-term, Facebook will continue to get more data, something the company has been harping on as it builds out its social network.

Facebook recently announced the third pillar to its business, Graph Search, and that's where the benefit could be long-term for Facebook.

During a presentation in January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized that Graph Search is different from Web search, highlighting both the technology's scale and its constantly changing nature. Graph Search can combine phrases to search people, places, photos and other content that's been shared on the social network.

"If you combine the Netflix data with Graph Search, you could really get granular," Ernst said during the phone interview.

Starting Wednesday, Netflix's streaming members in the U.S. can link their accounts, and all U.S. members will have access to the social features by the end of the week.

Shares of Netflix were higher, gaining 3.6% to $188.66 in early trading Wednesday, while Facebook shares were lower, down 1.33% to $27.46.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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