Netflix has been testing limitations on shared accounts in some countries for a while now. The new account blocking measures will roll out to North America soon, and now we know how they will work.
Update, 2/1/23 5:01 pm Eastern: Netflix has told The Verge that the exact requirements for password sharing in the United States could be different than what has already rolled out in Costa Rica and other regions. The original article continues below.
Netflix has updated its support website to explain how account access works in the regions where password sharing is already blocked, like Costa Rica and Chile. The changes don’t appear to be live in the United States yet, but Netflix previously said it would roll out blocking more widely in early 2023, so it will probably happen soon.
The support website explains “a Netflix account is meant to be shared in one household,” and how the company plans to block people from sharing Netflix accounts with remote friends and family members. Netflix will apparently determine your “primarily location” using your home’s Wi-Fi network, a combination of IP addresses, device ID, and account activity data. Devices that aren’t connected to that network and watching Netflix will be automatically blocked after 31 days. Netflix won’t suspend your account or charge you extra (at least, for now), but you will need to request a temporary code that grants you access for seven consecutive days. It’s unclear how the block will interact with VPNs, which are not officially supported anyway.
So, what happens to families with people in multiple locations, or friends sharing an account? Well, Netflix will add you add an “extra member” to an account “for less than the price of our Basic plan” (currently $6.99/mo in the US). Extra members get their own account login, but they must be located in the same country as the account owner. The feature is also unavailable for Netflix accounts that are bundled with other packages, like cell phone plans.
The extra member feature isn’t a full replacement for password sharing — for example, students studying abroad or families split across multiple countries can’t easily use it. For those situations, Netflix hopes you’ll just pay for another subscription, like the new “Basic with Ads” plan. The service may be almost impossible to use for people who frequently travel for work, or live in an RV that doesn’t stay in one location for long.
Netflix is hoping the new limitations will result in more subscriptions, even if they are for cheaper ad plans or extra members, squeezing a bit more money out of potential customers. However, it seems equally likely that groups trying to split streaming costs will just drop Netflix entirely and share a Hulu, HBO Max, or Disney+ account instead.
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