Entertainment TV Netflix account sharing could be a thing of the past as the service tests a new feature
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Netflix account sharing could be a thing of the past as the service tests a new feature

The message shown to some people logging onto Netflix. Photo: Twitter/DOP3Sweet
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Netflix is cracking down on users who share their account password with people outside their household.

Some users have reported seeing a pop-up box appear when they try to sign in using someone else’s account.

The message reads:

“If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.”

They are then prompted to either sign up for a free trial, or have a verification code sent to the email or phone number associated with the account.

Netflix is currently testing the feature but it’s not clear if that’s happening in Australia or when it might be introduced here.

“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorised to do so,” a spokesperson for the streaming service told the ABC.

Netflix once said this wasn’t a huge concern

Reed Hastings, the Netflix CEO, said in 2016 that account sharing would be too hard to police and did not represent a big threat anyway.

“Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with because there’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids,” he said.

“So there’s no bright line and we’re doing fine as is.”

But five years is like a century in the streaming economy.

Now, the space has become much more contested. Audiences can subscribe to dozens of different services — Stan, Disney+, Binge, Kayo, Amazon Prime Video, etc.

That makes it harder for any service to attract new customers and each customer more valuable. Netflix itself also said in 2020 that it did not expect its strong lockdown-related growth to continue much longer.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to a punitive environment [with] lawsuits being filed against folks,” like what happened in the music business in the days of Napster, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said in 2019.

“But I do believe the technology’s starting to get better to start paying attention to extensive abuse.

“When we see 14 locations logged into HBO on a Sunday night with 16 different streams going, we’re aware of those things.

“As growth taps out, I think the industry will come up with a method that’s a bit more rigorous.”

ABC