Netflix account sharing: an update on the confusing saga

Netflix account sharing update
Photo by DCL "650" on Unsplash

It’s been a messy past few weeks at Netflix, with plenty of confusion surrounding account sharing. So much so that they published an official statement in an attempt to clarify the issue.

One fact that hasn’t changed is that the streaming company is definitely clamping down on the act of password sharing between households. This means you won’t be able to log into your mate’s account unless you live together. However, the details about how Netflix intends to enforce this remain unclear.

Several publications including The Verge and Gizmodo observed Netflix changing the information listed on support pages. It involved details about primary locations, checking in every 31 days, and IP tracking. However, some regions included the info but not others, and Netflix even removed specific details, causing mass confusion.

Let’s unpack the latest information to clarify exactly what’s happening and how it affects you.

Netflix account sharing update

In a news post attributed to Chengyi Long, Netflix’s Director of Product Innovation, the company addresses the current situation. Essentially, it boils down to the fact we’ve technically never been allowed to share accounts with friends and family outside of the household. Netflix just hasn’t done anything about it. Until now, after Netflix started losing subscribers.

According to Long, “over 100 million households are sharing accounts — impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films.” The post then elaborates on features tested in Latin America over the past year, including purchasing additional members for outside the household. Here are the features Netflix mentioned, now live across New Zealand, Canada, Portugal, and Spain:

  • Set primary location: We’ll help members set this up, ensuring that anyone who lives in their household can use their Netflix account. 
  • Manage account access and devices: Members can now easily manage who has access to their account from our new Manage Access and Devices page. 
  • Transfer profile: People using an account can now easily transfer a profile to a new account, which they pay for — keeping their personalized recommendations, viewing history, My List, saved games and more. 
  • Watch while you travel: Members can still easily watch Netflix on their personal devices or log into a new TV, like at a hotel or holiday rental. 
  • Buy an extra member: Members on our Standard or Premium plan in many countries (including Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain) can add an extra member sub account for up to two people they don’t live with — each with a profile, personalised recommendations, login and password — for an extra CAD$7.99 a month per person in Canada, NZD$7.99 in New Zealand, Euro 3.99 in Portugal, and Euro 5.99 in Spain. 

Unfortunately, adding extra members is limited to the more expensive tiers. Standard subscribers paying $16.99 per month can add one member from another household, while those on the $22.99 Premium tier can add two. Anyone on a cheaper subscription, like the Basic with ads tier, won’t be able to add extra members without forking out for a more expensive option first.

Netflix account sharing chart
Source: Netflix

Predictably, communicating the current changes hasn’t gone down well. Frustrated replies flooded the Netflix ANZ tweet sharing the update, with a similar sentiment echoed on the company’s local Facebook page.

We don’t yet know when the Netflix account sharing measures go live in Australia. Aside from the newly announced countries, the company said it’ll roll out the features “more broadly in the coming months”. We’ll watch upcoming investor updates with great interest to gauge the widespread response.

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