blog | Why Netflix’s account-sharing restrictions are a ‘scare game’

blog | Why Netflix’s account-sharing restrictions are a ‘scare game’
blog | Why Netflix’s account-sharing restrictions are a ‘scare game’
Netflix wants to spread the word that account sharing is no longer allowed. But enforcing new rules for account sharing could be a whole different story.
© Hannah Cowton/Foundry

There have been reports that Netflix will block users who frequently watch videos outside of the home, but Netflix has still not specifically revealed when this measure will actually take effect. Users sharing accounts at this point may be warned to stop doing so. It says to create a separate account or pay extra. After months of testing in select territories, Netflix is ​​now doing just that for US users. However, it is not accurate to describe this as a ‘crackdown’. Strictly speaking, account sharing is still technically possible. It just got a little more annoying.

“Pay more to share”

Under Netflix’s Terms of Service, it is clearly a breach of contract to share an account with someone out of the house without paying an extra fee. For example, if your child is away from college, that child will have to create a separate account and either pay to sign up or pay an additional fee for sharing the account.

These paid sharing plans cost $8 per month in the US. You can add one account holder on the standard plan ($15.49 per month) and up to two more on the premium plan ($19.99 per month). Netflix has also decided to support a profile conversion tool for users who have previously shared an account and then separate it into a separate account. By using this, you can have your own account while maintaining the existing watch list and recommendation list. Netflix said it will use both IP addresses and device IDs, as well as activity within accounts, to identify users sharing an account.

Netflix has also prepared supplementary measures for long-term business trips or watching videos at a vacation home. On your TV device, go to Help > Manage Netflix Household and set or update your home’s location. Once you receive a code via email or text message and verify it, the change is complete. For typical travel, users can use the Netflix service for a period of time (Netflix didn’t say exactly how much) without receiving any warning messages. There are no restrictions on TV either.

On the other hand, users who use multiple Wi-Fi networks can become unintended victims of this policy. If you look at Netflix’s help site, it says that only one of these networks can be “regarded” as your Netflix viewing household.

Cracks in the Netflix Paywall

It’s still unclear what will happen if Netflix’s new account-sharing rules are broken. Netflix spokeswoman Momo Jo also admitted that at this point, the company is not blocking users suspected of account sharing. It means giving account sharing users ‘time to choose’. Regarding when the direct service blocking measures for account sharers will be implemented, he said that he could not reveal a clear time.

This isn’t the only thing that’s unclear. Netflix didn’t specify when it would block people who only watch Netflix on computers and mobile devices. Netflix has never mentioned mobile account sharing in the US, but it says users in some other countries will be able to watch Netflix on any device other than a TV without restrictions.

The ability to change the location of your home could itself be another account-sharing ‘trick’. Currently, Netflix doesn’t put a limit on how many times this location can be changed, so if Netflix starts restricting users who are suspected of sharing accounts, family members who live far away can create a shared email and enter a verification code whenever needed.

Account Sharing Restrictions After

What I’m talking about here is not to use tricks to circumvent the terms of the contract. Netflix is ​​complicating the situation in its pursuit of revenue.

Until now, Netflix has limited its service based only on simultaneous viewing. Even if this wasn’t the best way to prevent account sharing, it was a standard that anyone could easily and intuitively understand. On the other hand, limiting services by viewing location has led to many questions and confusion, and all kinds of exceptions to consider continue to emerge. Some of these were things that could annoy even normal users.

As a result, while Netflix is ​​officially taking a hard line against account sharing, it is relatively soft on actual blocking measures. With Netflix’s competitors already plentiful and none of them raising account-sharing issues, Netflix also doesn’t want to create a huge headwind by incurring the wrath of legitimate users. Netflix even has a history of delaying the implementation of its new account-sharing policy in the United States after criticism of policy confusion.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Netflix will continue to tolerate account-sharing issues in the future. However, it is clear that they will not be in a hurry to implement harsh measures such as blocking users. If the ultimate goal of Netflix’s new account-sharing countermeasure is to increase subscription revenue a little more, in fact, these ‘fear tactics’ may be enough.
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