Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown begins
As details of the measures swirled, many global users lamented the looming end of password sharing — which Netflix itself once described as the definition of love.
Netflix has started cracking down on password sharing in Canada and three other countries — attempting to force viewers who don’t live with a main account holder to pay an additional fee or buy their own subscription.
Netflix said Wednesday that the password-sharing measures would begin immediately in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain.
“Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts — impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films,” the company said in a statement, using global numbers.
Last year, Netflix carried out trials in Chile, Peru and Costa Rica, which allowed members to create sub-accounts for users living at different addresses for $2 to $3 per month. Now Netflix says it is ready to roll out its new system “more broadly in the coming months.”
It has not announced details about when or how it will extend the plans to other locations, including when changes will come to the United States.
Users in the four countries affected by Wednesday’s changes will have to choose a primary location — something Netflix says it will help them to do.
They will then have two options. One is transferring users who are not at that primary location to a separate paid account, which would enable the other users to keep their recommendations, viewing history and list of saved films and series.
Otherwise, Netflix will offer customers the option of buying up to two extra profiles for people living outside their own household. This will depend on the account holder’s own subscription level. Standard plans will allow one extra member on the account; premium plans will allow two. Basic subscriptions will be excluded completely.
The price for additional profiles will vary by country, with users in Spain paying about $6.44 (5.99 euros) for each additional profile per month. The cost will be $6 in Canada (7.99 Canadian dollars) and in New Zealand, around $5 (7.99 New Zealand dollars). In Portugal, the price is $4.29 (3.99 euros).
Under the new rules, Netflix says its members will still be able to “easily watch Netflix on their personal devices or log into a new TV, like at a hotel or holiday rental.” But it is unclear how this will work in practice.
Netflix published guidelines last week on password sharing to its Help Center page in certain countries. That guidance, which has been deleted after the company said it was mistakenly published, said that users would have to request a temporary code while traveling to access to their account for seven days. It also said that users would need to connect to the WiFi at their “primary location” at least once every 31 days to ensure their devices still have access to their account — and that users trying to sign into the account from elsewhere would be prompted to sign up for their own account — and blocked if they failed to do so.
Though a company spokesperson later clarified that those rules applied only to Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, it’s unclear whether that now applies to the latest countries on the crackdown list. Netflix could not be immediately reached for comment.
As details of the measures swirled last week, many global users lamented the looming end of password sharing — which Netflix itself once described as the definition of love.
“If you’ve got a sister, let’s say, that’s living in a different city, you want to share Netflix with her, that’s great,” Greg Peters, then Netflix’s chief operating officer and now co-CEO, said in a call with reporters last year. “We’re not trying to shut down that sharing, but we’re going to ask you to pay a bit more to be able to share with her and so that she gets the benefit and the value of the service, but we also get the revenue associated with that viewing.”
After initially losing subscribers at the beginning of 2022, Netflix beat forecasts to add 7.7 million new paid users in the fourth quarter of 2022 — thanks in no small part to the success of the Addams Family spinoff “Wednesday” and the “Harry & Meghan” documentary.
It has also rolled out a cheaper plan supported by advertisements in 12 countries.