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How will Netflix stop password sharing? What you need to know
Global streaming giant Netflix has announced its intentions to crack down on password sharing, making it harder to log into a friend’s account to save money. But some are wondering what that means exactly. Wasn’t password sharing always against Netflix’s rules? Does this mean you can split the cost of a subscription with your roommate? How will Netflix stop password sharing if you’re allowed to use your account on different devices and in different places?
This is all a lot simpler than it sounds, but there are a lot of moving parts, so we’ve gone ahead and broken down how this all works, and more importantly, how it will affect you and your Netflix experience. If you’re not already a Netflix subscriber, you can hit the link below to sign up and check it out.
Are you allowed to share your Netflix password?
Netflix allows you to share your password and account within your household. You can create multiple profiles so that the different members of your household, who you share your password with, can access their own watchlist and get suggestions targeted to them.
This has always been the case. Account sharing between different households — or giving your password to someone who doesn’t live with you — is not allowed according to Netflix’s terms of service. You’d be forgiven for not knowing that as Netflix has historically been lenient about this. In a viral tweet from 2017, the streamer even stated that “love is sharing a password.”
The exact wording on the Netflix help site is as follows: “A Netflix account is meant to be shared in one household (people who live in the same location with the account owner). People who are not in your household will need to sign up for their own account to watch Netflix.”
What is changing about password sharing?
What is changing with regard to Netflix account sharing is enforcement. The rules remain the same, but Netflix is now actually ensuring that the people using the service are playing by the rules.
In March 2021, Netflix started warning users that they should create their own account if they didn’t live with the primary account holder. At the time, it was clear Netflix was moving towards a crackdown on account sharing, based on location tracking.
According to a Netflix shareholder’s letter, the company intends to crack down on password sharing by the end of the first quarter in 2023, which means by roughly April, measures should be in place globally.
In February 2023, Netflix published an FAQ page that detailed how the new measures would work. The FAQ has since been deleted, making it hard to know exactly how Netflix plans to proceed, but at the time, the company laid out a process similar to two-factor authentication to authorize devices.
Netflix has already released controversial measures it plans to put in place to block password sharing between households.
In short, a Netflix account’s primary internet source would act as a home base. When devices attempted to log in elsewhere, Netflix could send a verification code to the account holder’s email or phone. Without entering the code, the user would not be able to access Netflix on the device outside the home network.
What this suggests is that Netflix intends to track IP addresses and devices to determine whether users are travelling outside of homes or trying to use someone else’s account. You won’t get in trouble for sharing account information, per se, but log-ins will be blocked.
An earlier version of the FAQ that was quickly deleted included claims that users would have to log devices in from their primary home Wi-Fi every 31 days to avoid being locked out, though it’s unclear whether this is a strategy that will ever see the light of day.
Where has Netflix tested its “new” rules?
Netflix has started to crack down on account sharing in certain markets. In Canada, for example, you can now pay a monthly fee for an “extra member” on your account. For 7.99 CAD, Standard and Premium plan holders get to share their account with someone outside their household.
Similar plans have been rolled out in Latin America, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain at varying price points.
It’s unclear how much Netflix will charge for similar plan add-ons in the US or how exactly password sharing will be blocked, but it’s likely to be close to the Canadian pricing model or a bit cheaper.
When will the crackdown begin?
As noted above, the crackdown has already begun in several markets.
As for when Netflix will begin blocking account sharing in the US, it could be any day, though late March or early April is the likely deadline based on previous statements.