Netflix Faces Backlash After Cracking Down on Password Sharing

Colin Thierry
Colin Thierry Writer
Colin Thierry Colin Thierry Writer

Streaming giant Netflix has faced significant backlash after announcing on March 16 that it was going to begin making some subscribers pay an additional fee for sharing their account with users outside their household.

Netflix has turned to price increases to raise more money amid reports of slowed subscriber growth. Lost revenue from password-sharing has impacted the company’s ability to “invest in great new TV and films,” it said.

However, this could be an issue for the streaming service since it’s most popular in the US with younger consumers, who support password sharing much more than older generations.

A 2021 survey conducted by tech research site Comparitech found that millennials and Gen Zers are around twice as likely as Gen Xers and baby boomers to share their streaming passwords with non-household friends and family and accept free access to others’ accounts themselves.

Netflix’s Current Policy

Netflix said that it is currently only experimenting with charging for password sharing in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru. However, users would still need to opt in to be subject to the rules, a Netflix spokesperson told TIME.

Currently, Netflix subscribers in the US can use their account on one, two, or four screens at once. Prices reflect the number of screens available per household, ranging between $9.99 and $19.99. In 2010, Netflix introduced its first streaming-only subscription plan for $7.99 per month after first launching its streaming service in 2007.

Prices across plans have all increased steadily in recent years, though, with the latest hike in January.

Although they may be watching on different screens, all users with access to a master account are supposed to be within the same household. However, if you share a password with someone who lives elsewhere, Netflix currently doesn’t take any action against you.

Password Sharing Options

In the coming weeks, Netflix will let subscribers in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru who share their password outside their household choose between two new options. They can either start paying a fee to add up to two “extra member” accounts to their subscription, or they can enable users who are outside their household to transfer their existing profile information — including viewing history and personalized recommendations — to their own new account.

These features are optional for the time being, which means subscribers won’t be automatically charged for sharing, Netflix’s spokesperson says.

Netflix said in its release, “We’ll be working to understand the utility of these two features for members in these three countries before making changes anywhere else in the world.”

About the Author

About the Author

Colin Thierry is a former cybersecurity researcher and journalist for SafetyDetectives who has written a wide variety of content for the web over the past 2 years. In his free time, he enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, watching sports, and playing video games.