Netflix to end free password sharing in UK within months

The Crown is one of Netflix's most popular shows. Credit: Netflix

Netflix will begin its crackdown on password sharing in the coming months.

In a report sent to shareholders last week, the streaming giant said more than 100 million subscribers share passwords outside their household - a practice which "undermines our long term ability to invest in and improve Netflix".

Netflix said the global change would begin rolling out globally sometime from the end of March.

From the end of the first quarter, Netflix is likely to introduce an additional fee to sharing a single subscription across multiple households.

A spokesperson for the streaming platform said it had not confirmed an exact date for the UK or any other country yet.

Netflix - home to hit shows like Squid Game and The Crown - conducted a trial of the new, stricter rules in a number of Central and South American companies last year.

The trials saw password sharers paying an extra £2.40 a month.

"As we work through this transition – and as some borrowers stop watching either because they don’t convert to extra members or full paying accounts – near term engagement, as measured by third parties like Nielsen’s The Gauge, could be negatively impacted," Netflix told its shareholders.

"However, we believe the pattern will be similar to what we’ve seen in Latin America, with engagement growing over time as we continue to deliver a great slate of programming and borrowers sign-up for their own accounts."

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How will Netflix stop password sharing?

In October last year, Netflix executive Chengyi Long said the following restrictions might be introduced:

  • Only one household will be permitted on a single Netflix account, but the account can be used across multiple devices.

  • An additional monthly fee will apply if extra households are added.

  • While travelling, the account will still be accessible by tablet, laptop or mobile.

Is Netflix losing subscribers?

The streaming service hopes the changes will help it recover its momentum after its customer base fell by 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of 2022 - the first drop it has seen in 10 years. Netflix boomed under Covid lockdowns as people stayed at home, but growth slowed as the world returned to normal.

Netflix has also seen rivals such as Apple and Walt Disney chip away at its audience with their own streaming services.

The drop also stemmed in part from Netflix’s decision to withdraw from Russia, in protest of the war against Ukraine, resulting in a loss of 700,000 subscribers.

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