Netflix begins rolling out its password sharing fee
Netflix’s much-dreaded “password sharing fee,” which prevents people from sharing their password with people who don’t live with them unless they pay extra — is beginning to roll out.
This week, Netflix’s Extra Members program went live in four more countries, following a previous test in Latin America: Canada, New Zealand, Portugal And Spain.
And as previously announced, more countries will be added “in the coming months” – meaning UK users currently sharing their Netflix password will soon have to adjust to a new reality.
Given this launch, we now know more details about how this will work – with Netflix customers requiring them to set a “primary location” for their account.
However, according to Netflix, this shouldn’t affect customers who want to watch shows while traveling – but there are a few caveats (see all the details below).
Why is Netflix restricting password sharing?
Sharing your Netflix password is often mentioned in money-saving guides to share the cost of the popular American streaming service – either with family members who don’t necessarily live with you, or even with groups of friends.
However, sharing passwords (with people who don’t live with you) is against Netflix’s Terms of Service.
The company has long turned a blind eye to account sharing, but in view of the declining number of customers worldwide, Netflix is now reiterating: “A Netflix account is intended for one household”.
According to Netflix, over 100 million households are currently sharing accounts, which is “impacting our ability to invest in great new TV shows and movies.”
So, in recent months, Netflix has begun testing various means to combat password sharing — or at least monetize it. This is how the Additional Members program was born.
Netflix Additional Membership Program
If you’re currently subscribed to Netflix’s “Standard” plan (£10.99/month in the UK), you can stream content on up to two devices at the same time. With the premium plan (£15.99/m) you can stream on up to four devices.
That means up to four people, who can be in different houses or even different countries, can watch Netflix at the same time under the same account. Of course, that also means Netflix will only get one paying subscriber instead of four.
The Additional Members feature allows subscribers to add paid sub-accounts for people they don’t live with, each with their own profile, personalized recommendations, login and password.
To help users who no longer have a Netflix account once a password is no longer shared with them, Netflix recently introduced a new “Profile Transfer” feature that allows users to transfer their Netflix profile – with its personalized recommendations, Viewing History and Watchlist – to a new paid account.
Standard plan subscribers can add an additional member, and Premium subscribers can currently add up to 2 additional members.
You will find that subscribers to the new Netflix Basic with Ads levelas well as on the basic tier with no ads, can’t add additional members under their primary account.
The upcoming costs for each additional member in the UK are not yet known – but they are currently CAD 7.99 per month per person in Canada, NZD 7.99 in New Zealand, €3.99 in Portugal and €5.99 in Spain.
How does Netflix know I’m sharing my password?
Once the Extra Members program goes live in the UK (and other countries), Netflix customers will need to set a “primary location” for their account on their home TV.
A verification link will then be sent to the account email address or phone number.
Netflix then uses your Wi-Fi or wired broadband connection and IP to “lock down” your primary location in a house (it doesn’t use GPS information, Netflix says).
If you don’t actively set a primary location, Netflix will do this for you automatically based on your IP address, device IDs, and account activity.
At that point – anyone trying to use your Netflix account elsewhere – will eventually get some kind of notification and their access will stop working.
Subscribers who don’t have a TV and only watch Netflix on mobile devices don’t need to set a primary location for now.
Can I watch Netflix while traveling?
Yes, you can still stream from your Netflix account when traveling (either in the UK or internationally), but there will be a few additional restrictions and bans once the Extra Members program goes live.
If you’re streaming from your own device (such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop), you shouldn’t encounter any issues AS LONG AS you open the Netflix app on your device while connected to the Wi-Fi network your main location, at least once a month – and then when you arrive at the second location.
This means if you travel for more than a month without returning home (your “main location”) you could run into problems.
If you’re trying to watch Netflix on a new device while traveling — say, via a hotel TV — you shouldn’t normally have any problems, but if the algorithm becomes suspicious, you may need to request a ‘temporary code’ through your account, which you’re using activate the new device for a limited time.
It’s also unclear how this scheme will affect them streaming Netflix with a VPN.
What do Netflix’s “additional members” get?
As part of the Extra Members Program, these paying “Extra” members enjoy many of the same Netflix benefits that main account holders enjoy:
- Unlimited access to Netflix content
- The ability to watch on any device with a Netflix app (TVs, streaming sticks, smartphones, etc.) – but only on one device at a time (so additional members can’t share their account with additional members…)
- The same video quality as the main paying member (i.e. HD on the standard plan and 4K on the premium plan)
- Additional members can download content for offline viewing – but only on one smartphone/tablet at a time
- Additional members can only have one profile (so they cannot allow other family members to create additional profiles in their sub-account).
It is interesting to note that while Netflix enforces these rules as part of their Terms of Service – the UK government has recently announced this in some cases – Sharing passwords can even be illegal.
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