In a long-awaited move, Netflix is moving to curtail password sharing. Although it’s not being rolled out in Ireland just yet, it’s only a matter of time.
Streaming giant Netflix looks set to follow up on plans to prohibit password sharing, which is bad news for all of those saving some extra cash each month with a shared account.
Netflix has been making some big changes in recent months after falling subscriber numbers prompted it to try find new ways of generating revenue in the face of increased pressure from streaming competitors.
The company has begun trialling ad-supported payment plans in a move to entice new customers, with the package coming in at a lower cost at the expense of ad-free viewing.
And its newest plans are an attempt to reign in the estimated 33% of account holders who share their log-in details with multiple users, in the hopes of getting them to pay for their own accounts.
Under Netflix's terms and conditions two devices can log in at any one time with a Standard plan and four devices or screens can log in at any one time with a Premium plan. However these users are all supposed to be living in the same household.
But until now Netflix had no real way of stopping anyone sharing their account details with a friend, family member or relative living outside the home. Indeed, back in 2017 Netflix even appeared to acknowledge the practice when it tweeted "Love is sharing a password".
However it's no longer 'in love' with password sharing and its new plans are aimed at stopping the practice. Which may be good for Netflix's bottom line. But not so good for our pockets...
What is Netflix doing?
Netflix has been trialling the blocking of password sharing in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru in recent months with a view to extending the practice worldwide.
However there has been some confusion around the plans with Netflix initially publishing details on its website before pulling them down a day later saying they had been put up in error.
Under the plans, it appears Netflix will establish a ‘primary location’ where the account holder normally accesses their account. And then anyone outside this primary location will be blocked from accessing the account and encouraged to sign up for their own account instead.
For a user to be considered part of this ‘primary location’, and to ensure that a Netflix account is not being shared outside of the household where it's registered, users must connect their viewing device – such as a TV, mobile phone or tablet – to the wifi in their home, open the Netflix app and watch something on the streaming service at least once every 31 days. This would mean that any college student living away and using their parents' account has to come home at least once a month.
However, if you’re travelling, you can request a code for seven days of unfettered access. And assuming your holiday runs over that mark, you can request another seven days also.
Is there any way of sharing my account?
As mentioned above, account holders can purchase plans that allow more users (up to four) on the same account. Of course, this only applies to people living within the same household.
Netflix has also been trialling 'paid sharing' where an account holder can pay for an extra person, living outside the account holder’s home, to access the service.
This allows up to two extra members on the account, who can access from any location and whose membership is paid for by the account holder. These extra memberships or 'sub-accounts' cost less than the Basic plan that Netflix offers.
When will this be introduced to Ireland?
There is no word yet on when Netflix will bring this to Ireland though it was recently extended to Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain and it's rumoured be launching in the UK in March - so we can't be too far behind.
So, for those who are stuck with their parent’s (or ex’s!) Netflix password, it might be time to consider stumping up the extra cash or give up the service.
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- Want to learn more about the streaming options available? Read our definitive guide on the (many) streaming options available to Irish consumers.
- For a breakdown of the best broadband deals in the new year, head over to our explainer.
- Learn more about Netflix’s ad-funded model.