People using Netflix password sharing to allow friends and family to watch videos on the service may not be able to do so for much longer. A new system that Netflix is testing is requiring viewers to confirm that they own the account they’re using before they get to stream movies and shows.
Since the start of this month, Netflix has been testing a verification system with a handful of users across multiple countries. According to sources, viewers were shown a prompt that read: “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” Once a user is shown this warning, they are then led to a screen where they would have to authenticate their account, either via a text message or an email. They can also opt to “Verify Later” or create an entirely new account. Netflix password sharing has become quite rampant, especially since users can activate and access their Netflix accounts across multiple devices.
In the past, Netflix seemed to turn a blind eye to password sharing. But this new test seems to indicate a change in how they handle practice. While Netflix password sharing may not be illegal, it is against the streaming service’s terms and conditions. Netflix has adopted a few password-sharing prevention measures over the years, but this has not stopped users from sharing their passwords with peers.
Back in 2016, Reed Hastings, the co-CEO of Netflix, commented on how password sharing on Netflix came with the territory and how Netflix was doing “fine as is” despite the practice.
“Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with,” he said. “There’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse [or] with your kids … so there’s no bright line…”
The company’s early lead in the streaming game may have allowed them to overlook the practice. After all, at the end of 2020, Netflix was reported to have roughly 203.7 million subscribers. But the rise of competing streaming services like HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ may have made Netflix considering tightening its restrictions against password sharing as a way to maximize profits from users who haven’t jumped ship. (Read: Twitter mulling subscription model to raise revenues)
According to Netflix, this effort is to ensure that those who are streaming shows and movies on their service are authorized to be doing so with their respective accounts. For now, the “Verify Later” option does not lock the viewer out of the account they are using, but it may just do so in the future. It also only appears for users watching on the TV, and as mentioned, only a handful of users are experiencing this test feature.
Now, while this verification process may not be a common practice yet for all Netflix users, you might want to consider getting your own Netflix account to make sure your viewing experience isn’t hindered. Netflix password sharing, whether legitimate or not, is still very much in practice now, but it soon may become a thing of the past if this feature is fully implemented.
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