Is it too early to harbor feelings of nostalgia for the early days of streaming? We've come a long way from just choosing between Netflix and Hulu, and while branding is always shifting, and players coming and going (or just buying each other out), Netflix has managed to weather the changes and maintain its premium position. Lately, though, the company has gotten serious about dropping one aspect of its past: the flagrant practice of subscribers sharing their account credentials with non-paying viewers. After some early tests, and getting started internationally, today Netflix finally brings its password-sharing crackdown to the US.
Users who share their passwords can expect to get an email from Netflix calling them out on this practice, and clarifying that they're only entitled to share an account with members of the same physical household. The company is crystal clear that it only considers there to be two legitimate paths forward: exporting a user profile to a new, independent, paid account, or paying $8 a month to add an "extra member" to the account — that's basically half the price of a full, standard account.
Extra members can keep on viewing while residing outside the primary household, just like they used to. They're restricted to streaming on one device at a time, and can similarly only use one device to store downloaded media. This option is also only available for fully paid plans, and is not supported on plans subsidized with ads. The $10 Basic plan won't work, either, which makes sense as it's limited to a single stream.
Netflix insists that so far it hasn't seen a big exodus of users angry at the changes — and instead, has reported subscriber growth in certain markets where the crackdown has already been underway. That said, we'll be extremely curious to see how US viewers react to this move over the days and weeks to come.
Considering how expensive Netflix can be compared to its peers, and how widespread account sharing has been for so long, it feels like some degree of pushback is inevitable. Whether that will result in people forking over that extra $8 a month, just outright cutting off their friends, or maybe reconsidering their streaming options altogether remains to be seen. There are certainly plenty of alternatives if you're willing to put in a little legwork, including setting up your own streaming Plex NAS server at home.