Wave Goodbye to Netflix Account Sharing: The OTT Leader Is On The Purge!

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Netflix account sharing will soon become a thing of the past as the OTT major is on the prowl. And it looks determined to weed out those accessing the platform without being the authorised owner of the account.

In a move that could have the bingers running for cover, Netflix is reportedly testing a new feature through which it aims to curb account password sharing.

The new Netflix feature, first spotted by eagle-eyed GammaWire, is displaying a clear message telling the unauthorised user to open their own Netflix account.

The message contains a prompt warning, going “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” Furthermore, it is also mandating users to verify their respective Netflix accounts through a verification code sent via email or text. Users will have a certain timeframe to verify the account, exceeding which they’ll have to create a new one to continue watching Netflix.

Netflix, which has since confirmed the test, is of the opinion that the trial is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are all authorized.

The timing of Netflix coming down heavily on those sharing their Netflix account password comes at an intriguing time too. Amid rumours making the rounds on social media, a ruling by a federal appeals court did actually make the act of sharing passwords a federal crime. There, the ruling’s focus was to target “hacking,” and not ordinary conduct, as a judge on the case mentioned at the time.

Nevertheless, streaming platforms in general, including Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, traditionally allow users to create multiple profiles within the account. The thing is, the terms and conditions of their streaming services specify they are meant to be used by people in the household, going with whatever plan they choose to avail.

How Netflix determines who is authorised to use the account, however, is a bit of a head-scratcher. Going by Netflix’s terms of service, the platform is only “for your personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household.” As can be seen, the guidelines are admittedly not zeroed in how exactly Netflix determines a “household”, given the fact that people not living in the same house could be sharing a family plan.

That being said, some number crunching may attest further to the crackdown being implemented by Netflix. Analysis from Parks Associates has estimated that password sharing and piracy cost companies in the streaming space around a staggering $9 billion alone.

Also, according to a poll by LendingTree, about 40% of Americans have said that their usage of Netflix is with a login and password that belongs to somebody else. What’s more, about 72% of the people polled in February said that they let someone else use their account. Evidently, a huge simmering problem beneath the surface.

Clearly, for a majority of Netflix users privacy is dead!

Even though the crackdown on Netflix account sharing to put a stopper on ineligible users is the most public one to date, it does not exactly fall in line with sentiments echoed by co-CEO Reed Hastings.

Going back to a 2016 webcast, the Netflix co-founder was of the view that password sharing was just something we’d have to learn to live with, mainly because of so much legitimate password sharing to go around. However, seeing the above stats, it is abundantly clear that Netflix is out to get what belongs to the service in the first place – gather lost revenue, lower the subscription lost, and increase the monetizable user base even further.

Netflix Accounting Sharing Crackdown: Eyes On Subscribers Count

Fuelled in no small part by the pandemic-induced lockdown, Netflix posted stellar figures in 2020. Gaining more than 37 million new paid streaming subscribers to cumulatively add up to more than 203.66 million paid streaming subscribers worldwide, it posted a revenue of $25 billion for 2020 (24% YoY). With popular titles like The Queen’s Gambit, Bridgerton pulling users in droves, it created a perfect storm for Netflix to cash in on.

With the changed strategy of pushing users to stop sharing Netflix accounts, the company could easily end up painting upwards trends in terms of paid streaming subscribers.

Netflix has been trying to entice users on the Indian shore – the largest market outside the US. After gaining 1 million new subscribers from Rs. 199 Mobile Plan launched last year, Netflix is again experimenting with a new Mobile+ plan to strengthen its presence in the country by lure more number of OTT fanatics. Not keen to stop here by any stretch, it has a slew of mouth-watering releases planned for its 2021 slate.

Needless to say, where on one hand Netflix is trying out all the jigs to swell its customer base across the globe, the password sharing curbs being tested might also help it stem revenue losses due to unauthorized access. Who knows, if the pilot does turn out to be successful, might we see other services adopt the measures too?

So be advised – want to stream, get an account!

In the meantime, stay tuned here for more updates.


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