Netflix trials restrictions on password sharing to those you live with

(Image credit: Future)

Perhaps inevitably, Netflix has begun testing new tools to prevent account sharing, the BBC reports.

In the trial, which currently affects a small sample of accounts, viewers are shown a screen saying: 'If you don't live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching'.

Users are then asked to provide confirmation that they share the same household by entering a verification code sent to the owner.

A spokesperson for Netflix told the BBC: "This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorised to do so."

This may sound rather officious for the typically laid-back Netflix, but never fear; it has been reported that there’s an option to ‘verify later’, banishing the warning screen from reappearing. For now, anyway. The company has not yet decided whether the feature will roll out across its whole network.

While sharing passwords outside of a household violates Netflix's terms of service, it’s long been a common practice that the company has acknowledged as one of its strongest marketing tools, with CEO Reed Hastings having called it “a positive thing” back in 2016.

That may have been the case when we were first introduced to the delights of streaming, but with users becoming savvier and increasing the number of digital services they are willing to subscribe to, Netflix’s attitude could be shifting.

Streaming subscription numbers saw a record increase in 2020 thanks to the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and new services like Disney Plus and HBO Max. Netflix is still the clear leader with over 203 million accounts, but as competitors have started to eat up its market share, could password control be the company's way of fighting back?


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Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre. Her mixing credits include productions at The National Theatre and in the West End, as well as original musicals composed by Mark Knopfler, Tori Amos, Guy Chambers, Howard Goodall and Dan Gillespie Sells. 

  • kdbur
    What if my son uses our 4K/4screen package, whilst at his mate's, house?

    If he was at home he would be watching in his room...
  • Friesiansam
    Unless they are also checking IP addresses, this might be easy to get round by just sending a text with the code.