Netflix gets serious: the end of account sharing has a date
News + Trends

Netflix gets serious: the end of account sharing has a date

Luca Fontana
Translation: machine translated

March 2023 will see the end of account sharing as we know it. This is according to a letter from Netflix to its shareholders. What does this mean in concrete terms?

The situation is getting worse. At least for those who share their Netflix password with friends and family. In other words, practically everyone. In a recently published letter to shareholders, the American streaming giant announced that it would be taking new measures to combat account sharing.

This is not entirely new.

This is not entirely new. Firstly, because sharing Netflix passwords with people outside of your own four walls has long been prohibited under the Netflix terms of use anyway. Secondly, because Netflix has been experimenting with ways to prevent account sharing in South America since spring 2022. What is new, however, is that a date for the "end" has been set: March 2023.

The end is coming: but how exactly?

In concrete terms, Netflix wants to use IP addresses, device IDs and account activity to recognise whether someone outside the assigned household is accessing the Netflix account. From March, anyone who does so will only be able to access their profile via an access code, which is expected to cost three dollars per month. The access code will only be generated once payment has been received. This would not be the "end" of account sharing per se, but at least the end of account sharing as we know it today.

The streaming service is not making friends with this. Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters knows this too. In an interview on the letter to shareholders, he said:

«We are aware that we are making ourselves unpopular and that accounts will be cancelled temporarily or even completely.»

The reason why Netflix is nevertheless sticking to its plans is because the executive board sees account sharing in over 100 million households worldwide as a brake on growth, according to the letter. It prevents the company from investing in the service and improving it. Hence the possibility of paid sharing: it does not prevent account sharing, but at least it is partially monetised.

If Netflix had its way, users would generate their own new, fully paid account anyway. This is precisely why the profile transfer was introduced last October. In other words, the option to transfer your personal Netflix profile, including the preferences, histories and lists saved by the algorithm, from an existing account to a new one. For those who find this too expensive, a cheaper but advertising-supported plan has been available since the beginning of November, at least in Germany. It is not known when and whether this option will also be available in Switzerland.

Many unanswered questions

The letter to shareholders does not specify in which countries paid sharing will be introduced at the end of March 2023. However, it can be assumed that the most important markets of the USA, the UK, Australia and Canada will be affected. However, experts also expect a launch in the rest of the world soon - including here in Switzerland.

This despite many unanswered questions. How does Netflix deal with changing IP addresses? How will it deal with people who have one or more residences - is it only forbidden to share the service, not to use it at different locations? The letter does not answer this question. The streaming giant is keeping a low profile.

Update 1 February 2023, 10:35 a.m.

Netflix has now published new details on its FAQ page on how account sharing can be detected and prevented. Namely via home WLAN or LAN. The bad news: It affects everyone, even those who actually use Netflix alone and in accordance with the rules. Everything else here:

  • News + Trends

    Netflix update: This is how the streaming giant wants to prevent account sharing

    by Luca Fontana

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I'm an outdoorsy guy and enjoy sports that push me to the limit – now that’s what I call comfort zone! But I'm also about curling up in an armchair with books about ugly intrigue and sinister kingkillers. Being an avid cinema-goer, I’ve been known to rave about film scores for hours on end. I’ve always wanted to say: «I am Groot.» 

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