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Soon, There Could Be No Such Thing as 'Free Netflix': Here's the Reason Why

What's your Netflix password? The days of asking this question could be coming to an end.

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What We Know
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Netflix is looking to quash the practice of subscribers sharing passwords with non-household members soon.

How soon? Starting 2023 in the US, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, 21 December.

  • Netflix subscribers can still share their account with people outside their households, but they'll likely have to cough up extra.

  • The streaming giant is reportedly faced with mounting subscriber losses.

Brass tacks: How would Netflix go about finding out who all lives in one household and who doesn't?

  • The company is likely to monitor IP addresses, device IDs and account activity.

  • This will help determine which users stream over shared Wi-Fi or wired broadband connections.

Yes, but: In countries like India, a majority of viewers watch Netflix on their smartphones using mobile data. This could turn out to be a challenge, the WSJ report said. Account holders using their Netflix accounts while travelling also presents another obstacle.

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Why it matters: The company's efforts to crack down on password sharing are a response to slowing growth, especially in regards to its US subscriber base, the report said.

Flip side: Placing restrictions on password sharing could, in turn, anger users and push them towards the numerous other streaming alternatives.

  • "Make no mistake, I don’t think consumers are going to love it right out of the gate," Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said to investors earlier this month, WSJ reported.

Testing the waters: Netflix has held dry runs of its plans to stop password sharing in three Latin American countries – Costa Rica, Peru, and Chile.

  • In this pilot programme, Netflix didn't straightaway block subscribers from sharing passwords.

  • Instead, it let them share accounts with two people outside of their households.

  • The outsiders could sign in only when a verification code sent to the primary account owner was entered within 15 minutes.

  • The results of the pilot seem inconclusive as it led to more users paying extra for sharing but also sparked complaints.

Meanwhile, watching Netflix without paying means that you're breaking the law in the UK, at least according to the country's Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

  • "Pasting internet images into your social media without permission, or accessing films, TV series or live sports events through Kodi boxes, hacked Fire Sticks or apps without paying a subscription is an infringement of copyright and you may be committing a crime," the IPO guidance said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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