Snippet: The End of Netflix Password Sharing Is Nigh ☇

Shared on December 22, 2022

Sarah Krouse and Jessica Toonkel for The Wall Street Journal:

Netflix didn’t pursue a plan to crack down widely on the practice until this year, as subscriber losses mounted. At a company gathering outside Los Angeles early this year, Co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings told senior executives that the pandemic boom had masked the extent of the password-sharing issue, and that they had waited too long to deal with it, according to people who were at the meeting.

More than 100 million Netflix viewers now watch the service using passwords they borrow—often from family members or friends, the company says. Netflix has said that it will put an end to that arrangement starting in 2023, asking people who share accounts to pay to do so. The company expects to begin rolling out the change in the U.S. early in the year. […]

Netflix has updated its customer help pages this year to say accounts are only to be shared by people who live together. The company has said it would enforce its rules based on IP addresses, device IDs and account activity.

This is not really a breaking-the-terms-of-service problem, but a Netflix problem as a whole. For years, they knew this was going on, talked about it, and looked the other way. Their prices increased, while the joke became “don’t get too attached to your favorite Netflix show because it’ll be abruptly canceled” and now after some rough quarters of subscriber losses, they’re going after their customer base. Is it within their rights? Of course. Do I think, with the rising subscription prices across the board mixed with less “destination” content, people who might have been “borrowing” a Netflix login will add one of their own? It’ll be a slim chance.

I think of the economics a bit, too. While they created an ad-supported tier, the tone of it goes against their whole brand (sort of like the cheapening of HBO Max by Warner Brothers Discovery), and doesn’t include all content. On the other end of the subscription lineups, they make you get the most expensive tier for 4K content, which also includes “4 screens” even if you’re one person living alone. No wonder a few friends or a family member living away from home will go in on a Netflix subscription if they want to watch it on their living room TVs instead of the cheaper ad-supported tier individually.

Personally, I’m finding Netflix being the next likely service to get cut if I have to start eliminating things and it has nothing to do with password sharing—it’s all content, pricing, and technical experience.

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