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What you need to know about Netflix’s crackdown on password sharers

What you need to know about Netflix’s crackdown on password sharers
(Image: Unsplash/Freestocks)

Looks like our days of freeloading off of our friends’ Netflix log-in credentials is nearing their finale, as Netflix has begun ridding the site of password sharers.

Last week, Netflix users reported seeing a welcome screen that warned them that “if you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” To verify their authenticated access, users will have to input a code sent via the authorized e-mail address or mobile number.

While the feature is only part of a test run, Netflix may soon roll it out for the rest of its network as part of its efforts to cut down on ineligible users. “This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a spokesperson from Netflix told BBC.

 According to Netflix’s terms of use, the streaming site’s service and its licensed content are “for your personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household.

Given this, sharing of passwords remains rampant. According to research company Magid, about 33% of Netflix users allegedly share their password with at least one other person. It’s a practice that’s been an open secret for too long that even Netflix sometimes acknowledges the fact that freeloaders — our exes, old roommates, and leeching siblings — exist.

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Despite the crackdown being a measure to make mooching users pay, Netflix is far from needy. According to its annual report, the streaming giant’s subscriber base soared to about 204 million in 2020, a year that saw everyone cooped up in quarantine. This was up by some 36.5 million or about 22 percent from 2019.

In the last quarter of 2020, Netflix posted revenue of more than $6.64 billion, up from a little over $1.18 billion in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Moreover, in a figure shared by Parrot Analytics, Netflix also captured the biggest share of “audience demand” in 2020 at 53.5 percent, retaining its place at the top of the pack. 

So, did it need to crack down on password sharers? Possibly, but not urgently. Sure, new streaming services abound and competition is slowly creeping in to dethrone the dominant site, but cracking down on something as common and logical as password sharing might be trickier than simply locking the leeches out. 

And be it with confusion or contempt, Netflix users are making sure their thoughts are heard:

Do you agree with Netflix’s new feature against freeloaders?

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