Netflix has announced that it will test limiting users to one home per account, with the option to add an extra home for a small fee. The trial starts in August 2022 in a select few Latin American and Caribbean countries and, if successful, may be rolled out worldwide. What does this mean for VPN users?
The “Add a Home” Update
This update is big news for Netflix users, who have gotten used to sharing their accounts with as many people as they want. According to Netflix’s press release, this new update will limit each account to one “home,” which we assume means a single physical location. The way it looks now, you’ll be able to add any number of locations to your account from where you can watch Netflix, but you can only have one active at any one time.
Currently, how many people can watch Netflix on a single account is limited only by the plan you’re on. Under this new system, to watch Netflix from more than one home or location, you need to pay $2.99 per month per extra active home.
If you’re on the Basic account, you can add only one extra home, while Standard and Premium users will be able to add two and three, respectively. It’s a pretty steep raise in price: for example, if you’re paying $9.99 now for a Basic account that you split with your neighbor, after this update goes live, you’ll be paying $12.98 for both of you.
The update won’t go live everywhere yet, it will first be tested out in Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Like most of its updates, Netflix is testing the change in Latin America. Its “add a member” feature was tested in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru, for example.
Why Is Netflix Making This Change?
The reason Netflix is making this change after letting users share their accounts since its inception is likely because the company realizes it’s leaving money on the table. While Netflix was experiencing massive growth, executives were likely not losing much sleep about you sharing your account with your friends, but after two quarters of losing subscribers and revenue, Netflix is making moves to crack down on it.
For now, the cost-cutting seems to be focused mainly on preventing what Netflix calls password sharing—letting other people use your account. Netflix has already been losing subscribers while raising prices, so it remains to be seen whether this effective price hike will be a winning strategy or will result in more subscriber losses.
How Will This Affect VPN Users?
Of course, having to register each possible location you may watch Netflix from is a little problematic for anybody that uses a VPN to access Netflix. In that case, every time you fire up your VPN to watch Netflix in another region, you’re likely getting a new IP address from the one you used before.
One possible scenario is that every time you use a VPN to access Netflix, you’re going to need to register your new “home,” which will likely get annoying after a while. That will be even worse if you’re using an IP randomizer like that offered by Surfshark, which changes your IP to a new one at set intervals.
There’s also a chance that Netflix is killing two birds with one stone with this update, eliminating password sharing while also finally getting rid of VPNs. The problem is that we’re not sure how exactly you’ll register homes: it could be that they’re linked to IP addresses or even to GPS coordinates (which is one theory on how streaming services detect VPN use.)
If Netflix thinks up some way in which you’d have to verify that you’re actually physically present at the location linked to the IP address you’re using, then it’s pretty much game over for VPN users. However this new update ends up working, it looks like life is going to get a lot harder for Netflix customers, and that goes double if they happen to use a VPN as well.
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