The day of reckoning has finally come: After months of warning and testing in selected countries, Netflix is tightening its belt and ending password sharing. In a first step toward the streamer’s announced plans to implement “paid sharing,” Netflix is politely informing subscribers that, to paraphrase Marlo Stanfield from The Wire, the price of the content is going up.
“A Netflix account is for use by one household,” reads a blog post Netflix published on Tuesday, regarding its new policy. Those the description does not apply to (siblings, friends, parents, etc. who don’t live with the primary subscriber to a Netflix account) have two options if they want to continue watching Netflix: Transfer their account to a new paid membership, or have the Netflix subscriber add an “extra member” to their extended “household” for an additional fee of $7.99 per month.
Failure to comply with this process will result in a cataclysmic system crash killing everyone connected to the Matrix, which coupled with the extermination of Zion, will ultimately result in the extinction of the entire human race. (Just kidding. That’s a quote from The Matrix Reloaded. We like to have fun here.)
A support page linked at the bottom of the email describes “extra members” as users who will have their own unique passwords and profiles, paid for by the primary subscriber. Extra member accounts must be activated in the same country as the primary subscriber, can only view and download content on one device, and cannot create extra profiles for the account themselves. In no uncertain way, these restrictions are designed to disincentivize sharing accounts, and to prompt everyone who watches Netflix to create their own account. (As of this writing, a Netflix account is currently $9.99 a month for the “basic” tier, with additional tiers going up to $19.99 per month. Additional users will cost $7.99 regardless of what tier the original account is.)
Netflix plans to enforce its shared-account policy by identifying the IP address of the device being used by the primary account holder. To change that location, users can confirm or update their household via the Netflix app, and respond to a verification link sent to the account holder’s email address or phone number.
Netflix understands that this decision will inspire backlash. According to a Variety report, Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters stated during a fourth-quarter 2002 earnings interview that the company anticipates a “cancel reaction” among Netflix’s user base in response to this change. “This will not be a universally popular move,” Peters said, comparing reaction to paid sharing to the reaction to past subscription price increases.
Ultimately, the question of whether potential customers will choose the “extra members” option on a family accounts or pay for their own account entirely depends on whether a given customer values having a Netflix subscription at all in the first place.