What you need to know about Netflix's new password-sharing rules

The streaming service recently deleted information on its US help centre that may give more insight into what customers can expect

Netflix has said account-sharing occurs in more than 100 million households. AFP
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Netflix may have inadvertently shared its plans for cracking down on account password-sharing in North America in a now-deleted frequently asked questions page on its US website.

For almost a year, Netflix had been hinting at its plans for a global crackdown on password-sharing, and in March 2022, the company began testing its new “paid sharing” feature with subscribers in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru.

The programme requires subscribers to pay extra for additional users outside the primary household. Account verification and device-blocking are also methods being used in the scheme.

Last month, in a letter to shareholders, the streaming platform announced it will soon introduce a version of this programme to its remaining global markets, and it was the specifics for the US market that were released, then no longer available as of Wednesday.

Why Netflix wants to curb password-sharing

Netflix has said the practice of password-sharing is "widespread", seen across more than 100 million households, and that it "undermines" the company's "long-term ability to invest in and improve" its services, "as well as build out business", according to the letter.

Account use is limited to one household, but Netflix users tend to share their password with other people, too.

“As borrower households begin to activate their own standalone accounts and extra member accounts are added, we expect to see improved overall revenue, which is our goal with all plan and pricing changes," Netflix said of its plans.

Netflix forecasted that more than 100 million new users would join the platform if it put an end to account-sharing. Details on how it will do that have remained vague, but the company said it intends to share plans globally within the coming months.

How will it stop password-sharing?

The new rules for the US are no longer available, but an archived version of the FAQs page can still be seen. It states that only people located in a primary household can use a single Netflix subscription, and that for several devices to use one, they must “connect to the Wi-Fi at your primary location, open the Netflix app or website".

It also says users need to "watch something at least once every 31 days” on the devices in the household, otherwise they will be blocked.

Why were the FAQs on the US website deleted?

The release of the FAQs page appears to have been a mistake.

“For a brief time yesterday, a help centre article containing information that is only applicable to Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, went live in other countries,” a Netflix spokesperson said, as quoted by The Streamable. “We have since updated it.”

A Netflix representative also confirmed to The Verge that the deletion does not confirm anything. “As you may remember, we rolled out Extra Member in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru back in March," said Kumiko Hidaka. "But the US (and other countries) don’t have it ... The only thing we’ve confirmed so far is that in our earnings on 19 January that ‘Later in Q1, we expect to start rolling out paid sharing more broadly.’”

Netflix has reiterated that it will communicate details of any changes on the platform before they are introduced.

The page now has step-by-step instructions for verifying a device by sending an email to the primary account holder with a four-digit code to share with users outside of their household.

Updated: February 09, 2023, 12:42 PM