Saturday, March 25, 2023

Netflix Password-Sharing Crackdown Hits Canada, New

Netflix has kicked off its password-sharing crackdown, rolling out new fees in four countries — Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain — that charge accounts for sharing their membership outside one household. 

The company, the world’s biggest subscription streaming service of its kind, has been promising investors that it would roll out the initiative widely for months. But it comes after years of being lax about password sharing, with Netflix once tweeting “love is sharing a password” and then-CEO Reed Hastings stating in 2016 that he loves when people share Netflix

On Wednesday, Netflix said it had launched “extra member” subaccount fees in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain, effective the same day. Modeled on a scheme Netflix tested in a few Latin American countries since last year, the charges ask subscribers whose membership is being used beyond one “primary location” to pay extra for one or two subaccounts. (Click here for more details on Netflix’s latest account-sharing policies.)

The extra-member charge is C$8 a month in Canada, NZ$8 in New Zealand, 4 euros in Portugal, and 6 euros in Spain. Netflix didn’t specify a timeline for when other countries, like the US, would launch the fees. 

Last year Netflix started testing ways to “monetize account sharing” after recording its deepest subscriber losses in a decade. With more than 230 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix believes more than 100 million accounts are sharing. 

The move comes as intensifying competition has started to crimp Netflix’s once-unflagging growth. In the past three and a half years, nearly all of Hollywood’s major media companies have been pouring billions of dollars into their own streaming operations. These so-called streaming wars brought about a wave of new services, including Disney Plus, HBO Max, Peacock, Paramount Plus and Apple TV Plus. This flood of streaming options has complicated how many services you must use (and, often, pay for) to watch your favorite shows and movies online. 

The password crackdown isn’t Netflix’s only about-face lately. It has also launched cheaper subscriptions supported by advertising, after it had dismissed the concept of commercials on Netflix for years. 

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