I think we all know someone who shares a streaming account with a loved one or family member. Not me of course, all of my streaming enjoyment is well above board with subscriptions to everything out there. But you know what I mean. Maybe along the way you’ve swapped a username and password here and there. Netflix users probably know this all too well considering the streaming service is the longest-running one out there; plenty of accounts have been shared along the way. But Netflix looks like they are going to begin cracking down on those shared accounts and will begin issuing warnings to users who might be engaged in the practice.
This news from Netflix comes as part of a new initiative in which they will begin issuing warnings to users that prompt them to sign up for a new account if they aren’t living in a house with the account holder. Of course, Netflix can definitely track all of this on their end, knowing wherever a user is logging in and seeing how many simultaneous logins are happening on one account and from how many different places.
The warning screen from Netflix now, when some users login (it’s been a limited sample size and not happening with every account) prompts users to use two-factor authentication to access the account. This could be either through a text or email message. For many, this would almost immediately put an end to sharing accounts out of the household considering asking the account holder to get the info and relay it in a timely fashion is probably a non-starter.
Netflix has long basically turned a blind eye to this practice among its users, definitely knowing it was taking place across their platform without taking any real steps to curb it. In some respects, it makes sense to allow different users to access one account under a single payment profile. If the main focus is to have as many people engage and then “get hooked” so speak on the platform’s content then making sure it’s “free” to as many people as possible as early as possible makes sense. It’s something of a loss leader in this respect.
But the growth of Netflix in general in addition to the ramped-up streaming wars with so many new services coming online in the last couple of years might be having them rethinking the approach. It also could stem from the streaming platform’s content reaching an inflection point. There’s enough name recognition and a healthy enough catalog of original works that they can stand to operate by having folks just purchase their own account now. Basically, they gave the first couple of tastes for free, but now you have to pay for it.
Another possible silver lining to this new Netflix initiative to limit multiple users is the rapid growth of account sharing through dark web markets. Usernames and passwords that have been compromised are often sold there illegally and Netflix requiring two-factor authentication would be a way to begin limiting those accounts.
Whatever happens with Netflix, the days of massive account sharing are probably over. The streaming service likely has different incentives now so we will probably only see more of these warning screens and additional layers of protections on accounts.