Snippet: Netflix is Going to Screw Themselves Over ☇

Shared on February 1, 2023

Matt Tamanini for The Streamable:

Netflix will be rolling out enhanced efforts to curb password sharing in the United States by the end of March; that much we know for sure. That was confirmed by co-CEO Greg Peters in January as part of the company’s fourth-quarter 2022 earnings report. However, the exact specifics as to what those efforts will look like have yet to be revealed by the world’s largest streamer; at least not officially.

Earlier this week, the streamer’s official domestic Help Center detailed new protocols to prevent people from using someone else’s account to access Netflix’s platform. The new rules would require subscribers to verify their home devices every month and devices outside of the home would be blocked and encouraged to create an account of their own.

Having spent a few years working in the world of higher education, there were many instances where students off at college would share a Netflix account with their parents. In most cases, their parents would be infrequent users and they’d be heavy users (at least anecdotally). It did give them something to feel connected if they were far apart, though. My mind immediately went there with these new rules. Between heavy-handed “home” enforcement, having a reputation for canceling well-liked shows before people can even get through them, and giving off “You wouldn’t download a car” vibes, Netflix is going from one of the cool, well-liked streaming services to being lumped in with greedy, old Big Cable™.

What about children whose parents are separated or divorced? By Netflix standards, they’d be in two households and breaking the rules. How about someone who has a summer vacation home? Nope. Against the rules. Truckers who watch things when they have downtime? Make sure you log in at home at least once a month or else.

Should they crack down on password sharing? Perhaps, it’s within their rights and a lot of people do it. However, I’d look at why people password share—there are cheapskates, but a lot more people are falling into the category of “college students’ parents” in that Netflix is nice to have for one or two things, but not an essential item. Add in the absolutely asinine limitations on the cheap tier and it makes more sense for two friends to split a higher-tier subscription to avoid ads and have 4K video (1x $19.99 vs. 2x $6.99). Netflix even gets more money and there’s some “stickiness” since two people would have to agree to cancel instead of one.

Nonetheless, the idea that Netflix is making themselves less essential and not the “core” service for streamers seems to be picking up steam. That should scare the crap out of their management because I doubt many users will convert to their own subscriptions or jump through all the authentication and verification hoops. They’ll just divert their attention elsewhere.

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.