How Netflix is clamping down on password sharing and the new rules coming to the UK

Entertainment Reporter Rishi Davda discusses what the changes could mean

By Multimedia Producer Rachel Dixon

Netflix has begun it's highly anticipated global crackdown on subscribers sharing passwords with those outside of their household - giving users in the UK a glimpse of what is to come.

The streaming giant has already started to implement stricter rules for users in a scheme being trialled in South and Central America and it is expected these rules will come into force in other countries around the world later this year.

So, what are the rules being trialled in Central and South America?

The new rules are set out on Netflix's website and include:

  • Those using a profile connected to the account must connect to the Wi-Fi at the bill payer's primary location, usually their home.

  • Users need to watch something on the Netflix app or website at least once every 31 days.

If this is not done, or someone is persistently watching from a different place to the primary location, their device may be blocked from watching Netflix.

To share Netflix with someone not in your household, you must add an extra member to your account, at an added cost.

  • The extra member will have their own account and password

  • The original account holder will pay a monthly fee of £2.40 a month for the added extra member

  • The extra member must be in the same country as the account holder

What is the current situation in the UK?

Netflix has previously said more than 100 million subscribers share passwords - a practice which "undermines our long term ability to invest in and improve Netflix" according to a report sent to shareholders in January.

For UK viewers, Netflix's Help Centre website says, "people who do not live in your household will need to use their own account to watch Netflix".

At the moment Netflix will not automatically charge you if you share your account with someone who doesn’t live with you. However this is likely to change in 2023.

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

A Netflix spokesperson said: "Later in Q1, we expect to start rolling out paid sharing more broadly.

"As we roll out paid sharing, members in many countries will also have the option to pay extra if they want to share Netflix with people they don’t live with.

"As is the case today, all members will be able to watch while travelling, whether on a TV or mobile device."

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

What currently happens if you're asked to verify a device in the UK

  • Netflix sends a link to the email address or phone number to the primary account owner.

  • The link opens a page with a 4-digit verification code.

  • The code needs to be entered on the device that requested it within 15 minutes.

    • If the code expired, you will need to request a new verification code from the device.

  • Once successful, that device can be used to watch Netflix.

  • Device verification may be required periodically.

Netflix uses your IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity from the computers, laptops, TVs or phones signed in to the account to monitor who is using it.

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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 subscribers rocketed during 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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