Imagine it: you’re Netflix, the world’s most well-known online movie and TV series streaming service. For years, you have virtually no competition until suddenly everyone starts making their own streaming services. Apple, Amazon, HBO, Disney, Paramount, Showtime, Hulu, and even Starz (really, Starz?) come up with their own subscription based streaming services. The field is suddenly a lot more crowded. It isn’t just your Netflix originals like Stranger Things and House of Cards that are generating all the buzz. Sure, you’ve still got your Squid Game and your Bridgerton, but now non-Netflix titles like The Boys, The Mandalorian, Lovecraft Country, Peacemaker, WandaVision, and The Handmaid’s Tale are stealing way too much of your thunder. You need to make sure your subscribers stick with you. They can subscribe to those new guys, sure, as long as they keep coming back to you. So, you… make your service more expensive?
At least, that’s the answer Netflix seems to be coming up with. The streamer is gearing up to charge its subscribers even more. You know how you either use the username and password of someone you know to watch Netflix, or lend your username and password to someone else? According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix wants that extra money from you. They’re beginning to test a feature that will allow subscribers to add up to two other users onto their account, but only for an extra fee. The streamer will test the new model in Peru, Costa Rica, and Chile.
In a blog post about the new options being tested, Netflix’s director of product innovation Chengyi Long explained how the two new features will work. Subscribers on the streamer’s Standard and Premium plans can add up to two users who live outside their household. The extra users will have their own login info, recommendations, etc. The other option is for subscribers with the Basic, Standard, or Premium plans to transfer someone who is already using their login info to a brand new account, or to an “extra member sub account.”
It’s an interesting move to make, particularly when you consider how things have been looking for Netflix recently. The streamer’s stock took a nose dive back in January, when it announced it had missed its new subscriber goals for 2021. Not long after, reports emerged that competing streaming services like HBO Max and Disney+ were eating a lot more of Netflix’s lunch than anyone expected. While Netflix’s numbers are still nothing to sneeze at, the consensus seems to be that domestically its growth has stalled. Seems like a strange time for the streamer to do something that will potentially make subscribers think, “Hm, well HBO Max and Disney+ don’t punish me for sharing my account, so…”
Could it be that Netflix is overextended? Long’s post begins with telling readers that when accounts are shared between different households it limits the streamer’s “ability to invest in great new TV and films.” Maybe slapping down stacks on the barrel for things like a whole series of Red Notice films is finally starting to sting a little? It wouldn’t be the first time Netflix learned harsh lessons by overspending on its original content. Of the earliest examples of original Netflix series that got the axe, in many cases — such as Marco Polo and Sense8 — they were canceled because they were simply too expensive to make.