Netflix is again looking into users who share passwords with others who might not be part of their household. We have seen indications that Netflix has been pondering over this missed potential revenue before, but the first has always stepped back from being the 'bad cop'.
Recently, GammaWire reports users in some regions have started to see warning screens regarding account sharing. The following message screen might pop up, when various logins are detected:
"If you don't live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching."
Netflix confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter that this is a message with a limited rollout which is "designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so". It is therefore being pitched as Netflix keeping a careful eye on user accounts to keep them secure.
A quick way to dismiss the pop-up is to simply click 'Verify Later' but who knows how persistent these intrusions might become. Alternatively you can choose to get a verification code by email or SMS, which may or may not be convenient. Moreover, I'd question the next steps from Netflix should say you live in Tipperary and are sharing the account with a friend in Timbuktu.
If you have ever subscribed to Netflix you will know that there are several subscription choices to be made and, as you increase the base streaming quality – SD, FHD, UHD, typically more simultaneous users are allowed to stream. Thus, for example, someone who lives on their own but insists on UHD streaming may have three 'spare screens'. The T&Cs indicate that any others in your household can watch these other screens, but people like to bend the definition of household, and for a long time Netflix knows this has been going on.
Back in 2016, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that "Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with because there’s so much legitimate password sharing - like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids... so there’s no bright line, and we’re doing fine as is." Those are reassuring words, though from five years ago, and some industry watchers believe that as growth in media streaming services slows and competition tightens the likes of Netflix, HBO Max will have to reduce unauthorized access to their shows and movies. The technology to detect and block 'non-household' sharing is likely to get better too.
A recent price increase and folk being under lockdown has helped Netflix's bottom line with its latest results showing it has over 200 million paid subscribers, and it brought in $25 billion in revenue and made $2.8 billion in profit in 2020.