Netflix’s big password-sharing crackdown has arrived in the US and UK, which means anyone sharing a password outside their household won’t be able to share their Netflix account for free. Unless you live in the exact location, you’ll have to sign up for your own Netflix account.
In a blog post, Netflix shared the news that it will send emails to members currently sharing their passwords outside their household to account holders in the US and UK. The password-sharing crackdown has already occurred in New Zealand, Canada, Portugal and Spain. Now, more users must transfer their profile or add an extra member sub-account to share access with friends and family.
The new scheme could be better for users piggybacking off others’ accounts, and the streaming giant even expects subscribers to cancel their membership (via Financial Times). But it isn’t all doom and gloom, since you can still share passwords – for a price. For those now affected by the change, here’s what you need to know.
How does Netflix password sharing work?
Netflix states that an account is “meant to be shared in one household,” meaning only people living with the account owner can access the streaming service with one subscription. People in different households must buy subscriptions and transfer their profiles or be added as extra members.
The streaming giant introduced different tiers of subscription plans, including the new ad-based plan, with Standard and Premium being the only packages allowing for extra members.
These extra member accounts still come at a cost ($7.99 a month per person in the US and £4.99 a month per person in the UK). As the company specifies, the sub-accounts will need to be approved and paid for by the account owner, and they need to be in the same country where the account owner created the account. These members can transfer a profile from an existing account, “including recommendations, viewing history, My List, saved games, settings, and more.”
Netflix uses a combination of your primary location’s IP address, device IDs and the account activity from devices signed into the account to ensure no one else is using your account. It doesn’t use any GPS data; Netflix uses the IP address from the device or app to assume its general location.
If you’re travelling abroad, you can still access your account on personal devices or a new TV. “Everyone living in that household can use Netflix wherever they are – at home, on the go, on holiday,” the streaming giant states.
To get the ball rolling, the company added new features to get users to buy an extra member slot and manage access to their accounts. Click on your profile and select Account.
For those opting to create a new account without losing their account history, the account holder can set this up with the new Transfer Profile feature. Like before, click on your profile, select Transfer Profile and then click Allow.
Can I bypass Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown?
Previously, Netflix stated on its Help Center page that users can “request a temporary code to give you access to Netflix for seven consecutive days.” Giving users of an account a temporary code may have been an obvious loophole for people to access their account outside a primary location. Still, it appears it is changing specific details.
There is no clear method of getting past the password-sharing crackdown. With the streaming giant using your primary location’s IP address to recognise an account holder’s primary address, it is difficult for the best VPNs for Netflix, like ExpressVPN, to bypass the service. VPNs use different IP addresses in other countries, meaning the streaming giant may even block an account not using the primary location’s IP address.
While there is a way to connect to your household’s Wi-Fi remotely outside your home by using your Wi-Fi router’s IP address, it can only be used to control your router’s settings – not to access your home internet. However, using your primary location’s IP address may be the key to cracking the password-sharing code. That said, this has yet to be tested.
Why is Netflix cracking down on password sharing?
Despite Netflix famously saying, “love is sharing a password” on Twitter, the streaming giant has now changed its mind. In fact, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, “we love people sharing Netflix” back in 2016.
In an update, the company now states its concern about people sharing accounts: “Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts — impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films.” The company’s reasoning is to give subscribers greater control over who can access their accounts, but it’s also likely due to its recent loss in subscribers.
In the first quarter of 2022, Netflix reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers – a first in over a decade. While still reaching 222 million “paying households,” an additional 100 million households are using the streaming service via password sharing. That’s a lot of revenue the company could gain, and eliminating account sharing would see huge gains.
The company also faces a lot more competition than it once did. With streaming giants such as Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and more duking it out for subscriber dominance, it’s clear Netflix is doing what it can to stay on top as the world’s largest streaming service. But it comes at the cost of many losing free access with just one account.
During Netflix’s experiment on password sharing in other countries, the streaming giant found that many subscribers cancelled their accounts as a reaction to the change. However, it saw that “subscribers soon started adding ‘extra member’ accounts, boosting revenues and persuading management that it was taking the ‘right approach,'” according to a Financial Times report.
The big crackdown on password sharing is here; only time will tell how it will impact the streaming giant’s subscriber count. In the meantime, check out what to do if Netflix isn’t working with your VPN.