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Netflix Is Testing Ways To Limit Password Sharing, And It’s Going To Make A Dent In Some Wallets

Millie Bobby Brown and the cast of Stranger Things in Season 3
(Image credit: 21 Laps Entertainment)

There are so many streaming services and each one probably has content that you want to watch, but if you subscribe to them all, that can get pretty expensive. But the truth is that you don’t actually need to subscribe to every service to get access to the content. Technically, you only need the login info of somebody that has that access. Password sharing is a not uncommon practice but streaming services don’t really like it, and Netflix is trying a new method of combating it, by simply asking users to pay for it. 

Netflix has announced (opens in new tab) that it is about to launch a pilot program in three nations, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, which actually make password sharing perfectly acceptable under Netflix’s terms. It will simply ask people doing that to pay a bit more for the privilege. Netflix users in these countries will soon be able to add up to two “sub-members” to their account. Each will get their own profile and login information. The price for adding a sub-member in Costa Rica, where a basic Netflix plan cost $8.99, will be $2.99. The other two countries' prices for sub-members come out to about the same price in those currencies.

It’s an interesting idea, and one that may end up working. Certainly Netflix doesn’t want users to share passwords, they want more subscriptions. Password sharing is antithetical to that and while Netflix would be within its user agreement to cancel subscriptions for those that do this, it would ultimately hurt their own bottom line and also just be bad PR.

This option allows for a middle ground. Netflix gets a few more dollars out of the customer, the end user gets to remain within the rules, the people doing the sharing get the benefits of that without having to pay the price of an entirely new subscription. Streaming itself has shown that when content is made easily available, people generally don’t have a problem paying for it, and so a lot of people may take advantage of this. Though anything that increases price might ultimately drive some Netflix users away.

This is only a test idea so there’s no guarantee that this will be rolled out to all Netflix users eventually, the streaming service says it’s just trying to “understand the utility” of the feature. It will certainly be interesting to see if, with this carrot comes a stick. Will people who do not take advantage of adding these sub-members start to see a crackdown on password sharing? There have been indications now and again that a stricter line was coming, but nothing has come of it yet. 

And if this new system is successful and gets rolled out to more users, there’s a pretty good chance that other streaming services will try something similar. Netflix is far from the only one that sees people sharing passwords. 

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.