“Love is sharing a password,” until it isn’t

Netflix cracks down on password sharing rules

Netflix once tweeted that “love is sharing a password.” However, as more streaming platforms emerge and the competition rises, Netflix has since decided to stop supporting their users’ sharing of passwords. 

Which is bad news for hundreds of California State University, Monterey Bay students who live on campus during the school year.  

Chengyi Long, the director of product innovation at Netflix, posted an update on Netflix’s password-sharing policy on Feb. 8. 

“We’ve always made it easy for people who live together to share their Netflix account with features like profiles and multiple streams,” it reads. “While these have been hugely popular, they’ve also created confusion about when and how you can share Netflix. Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts — impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films.” 

The article explains their focus was to give members greater control over who can access their account, with a few new “features” in place, which the article lists as follows: 

  • Set primary location: We’ll help members set this up, ensuring that anyone in their household can use their Netflix account. 
  • Manage account access and devices: Members can now easily manage who has access to their account from our new Manage Access and Devices page. 
  • Transfer profile: People using an account can quickly transfer a profile to a new account, which they pay for — keeping their personalized recommendations, viewing history, My List, saved games and more. 
  • Watch while you travel: Members can still easily watch Netflix on their devices or log into a new TV, like at a hotel or holiday rental. 
  • Buy an extra member: Members on our Standard or Premium plan in many countries (including Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain) can add an extra member sub-account for up to two people they don’t live with. 

However, these features are more like parameters and raise questions, especially for the college students who aren’t able to log into their primary location (i.e. their parent’s house) once every 31 days to ensure their device is associated with their primary location. 

It’s pretty straightforward: Netflix does not want anyone outside of the home to share an account, regardless of who that person may be.

Searching “password sharing” in the help center leads to one short article on the topic. 

“A Netflix account is meant to be shared in one household (people who live in the same location as the account owner). People not in your household will need to sign up for their account to watch Netflix,” it reads.

While an additional member who is not living within the household can be added to a Netflix account for an additional fee that will likely be cheaper than a separate account, it still raises questions if Netflix is actually worth the extra money. 

“Well not going to lie, I do use my best friend’s family account for Netflix, therefore I am probably going to lose my access,” said fourth-year Matthew Lencioni. “Although I can understand that Netflix has lost a lot of money because of password and account sharing, I don’t think this is going to help them increase revenue in any way. If anything I think this change will lose customers, their money and their trust.

“I think streaming platforms are a favorite pastime of many students, however once that ‘free’ account gets taken away I don’t think most students will want to pay to keep watching unless they really value the platform and have additional income to do so,” he said. “If anything I think students would rather seek out cheaper options amongst other platforms like Hulu.”

Fellow fourth-year Emma Alexander held a similar sentiment to Lencioni and questioned how it would affect college students. 

“While I see where they’re coming from for security purposes and at the end of the day they’re a company with the goal to have more users and making more money, I think it’s ridiculous because there’s many college students using their family’s accounts as well as people using a VPN. In conclusion, not a fan,” she said. 

“I think it is impractical. Like, when I think about it how would even work?” second-year Emily Silva said. “People have so many devices and Netflix has enough money to not be stingy”

In general, it appears this change doesn’t encourage Netflix account users to make their own account. Instead, the change is encouraging viewers to seek out other options.

“I use my friend’s account, and I was planning on giving up Netflix and taking the L,” said Silva.

“I don’t really use Netflix as much as I used to now, so if I lose my friend’s account it’s not going to be the end of the world,” said Lencioni. “Eventually down the line I might start paying for streaming services again, but in the meantime I’ll probably just go back to using certain free movie streaming websites I know.”

Screenshot by Arianna Nalbach

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