sharing: What to do about the streaming service’s crackdown

Netflix password sharing: What to do about the streaming service’s crackdown

The streaming giant is getting tough with freeloading friends and family

Netflix to put a stop to password sharing

Netflix is putting a stop to password sharing. So, if you’ve been handing out your password to friends or family that don’t live with you, or piggybacking on someone else’s account, things are about to get tricky. The streaming service has already started shutting down freeloading friends and family in other countries. Now, the same changes are potentially on the horizon everywhere else.

Why is Netflix scrapping password sharing?

Sharing passwords is something Netflix used to turn a blind eye to, and even actively encourage. Not anymore, pals. While it’s got a massive subscriber base of 230 million around the globe, Netflix is facing increasing competition from the rivals streaming platforms like Disney+ and Now.

Netflix reckons that around 100 million households are sharing accounts. In the UK alone, it’s estimated that around a quarter of the ~15 million Netflix subscribers, upwards of 4 million homes are allowing their accounts to be used by friends and family.

Naturally, that’s eating into Netflix’s coffers for creating big-budget content like Stranger Things. So, it plans to put a stop to it and make people cough up for the service they’re using, which is fair enough really. Frankly, we’re surprised the streaming OG hasn’t done this before.

When is Netflix ending password sharing?

Netflix first starting rolling out the changes in Latin America, before extending the new rules to four more countries: Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain. An expected crackdown was rumoured for March 2023 in the UK and US, but there have been no firm plans for when the changes may spread further afield.

It’s not gone down well in Spain, though. Bloomberg reported that Netflix Spain lost 1 million users in the last quarter, with the decline linked to Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing.

What are the rules for Netflix passwords?

Netflix is pretty clear on this — a Netflix account is intended for one household only, though you’ll still be able to watch on mobile or log into a hotel TV while travelling. And while Netflix is getting tough on handing out passwords to people that don’t live with you, it’s introducing something called ‘paid sharing’ to fill the gap.

Netflix’s new ‘paid sharing’ option means you can up to two extra members that don’t live with you to your account. Instead of sharing your password with them, they’ll be set up with their own sub-account and login details. This is designed for situations like a student going off to university, while still attached to their parents’ Netflix account as an extra member. 

So, what is Netflix changing?

Netflix is introducing a few changes to help it keep track of passwords. You’ll be asked to set a primary location, so that anyone else in your household can use your account. There’s also a new Manage Access and Devices page coming that’s designed to make it easier to manage who has access to your account.

How much is Netflix charging for password sharing?

Going by the changes that have already gone live in other countries, subscribers on Standard or Premium plans will be able to add two extra members that don’t live with them. Prices released so far are CAD$8 a month per person in Canada, NZD$8 in New Zealand, €4 in Portugal, and €6 in Spain.

There’s no word on how how much this will cost in the UK just yet, but we reckon it could be somewhere around the £8 mark. Netflix hasn’t specified how much an extra family member will cost for US subscribers, but if we go by the above information we’d expect a figure between the $7 and $8 mark.

How does Netflix know if I share my password?

Netflix collects loads of viewing data for the scarily accurate recommendations you see on your home screen, so it already knows what you’re watching, where, and for how long. Along with your viewing data, it also knows the IP address you’re logging in from, and your device IDs. While Netflix hasn’t confirmed exactly how it’s going to police the password clampdown in the UK, it’s the IP addresses and device IDs that it’ll probably be looking at.

If a device outside your home is regularly logging in, Netflix may well ask for a verification code before continuing. That means, if you’re willing to be ‘on call’ to whoever you’ve shared your password with, and you can share the verification code with them quickly enough, your current password-sharing buddies just might be able to keep watching.

Is there any other way to get around the Netflix password sharing apocalypse?

If you’re using a shared password, the new changes suggest that you’ll need to connect to the home Wi-Fi of the account holder at least one a month. If you’re only watching on a laptop, and you live nearby, this might be doable, but carting your TV up to your parental HQ might be a step too far, even for the most committed subscription fee dodgers. 

Can I use a VPN?

One way to get around the new rules could be to use a VPN, so that you appear to be watching from a country where the rules haven’t been changed yet, rather than your actual location. 

Theoretically, this means that you could keep watching with a shared password. However, Netflix (obviously) recommends that you don’t watch via a VPN because you won’t get the right content for your country, with the correct language settings. It’s also likely that Netflix might try and close the VPN loophole in future to halt the determined freeloaders. 

Is there anything else I can do?

If you’re still not keen on paying up for the full subscription fee, the recently introduced Basic with Adverts plan, might be worth considering. As the name suggests, you do have to put up with ads, but it’s only £5 ($7) a month for 720p viewing (no downloads, mind).

If you or your password pal does opt to set up a new account, you can bring your existing profile, taking all your viewing recommendation, viewing history, and watchlist with you.

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