Netflix against account sharing: the first tests are a mess

It is no mystery that Netflix wants to limit the widespread practice of account sharing, a measure that could help increase the streaming giant’s revenues at a time when financial results are not shining. The novelty could be fully operational by the end of the year, preceded by a necessary test period. They are precisely the first test results to be discussed and to highlight aspects that Netflix should keep in mind when deciding to extend the new measures to other markets.

Since last March the measures to limit the sharing of accounts are active (in experimental form) in Peru, Chile and Costa Rica and are substantiated in the request sent to subscribers to pay an additional fee (about 2 euros more) to share the account with other people outside their family. Easy to say on paper, but practical implementation has highlighted more than one critical issues. In summary:

  • some users were not informed of the news by e-mail or notification sent by Netflix, even after two months from the introduction of the measure;
  • practical application varies from user to user – some ignored validation prompts at no penalty to the account owner. A user, on the other hand, stated that he was never informed of the change and that he continued to share the account without difficulty;
  • also the definition of the concept of “family” has raised some perplexity: some users may also consider their closest family members (eg uncles, nephews, etc.) members of their own family. Netflix appears to be aware of this ambiguity;
  • A Netflix customer service representative in Peru confirmed that they are providing verification codes to subscribers who call to allow family members to use the account from another location. In this way, even family members who are not under the same roof can continue to use the shared account for free;
  • as an effect of the subscription price increase, some users have decided to cancel the subscription.

The above information comes from an investigation conducted by Rest of World who interviewed Netflix subscribers in Peru. A Netflix spokesperson commented in a statement issued to colleagues of The Verge:

The millions of members actively sharing an account in these countries have been notified by email, but given the importance of this change, we are slowly increasing notifications within the product. We are satisfied so far.

It is to be hoped that Netflix will be able to capitalize on the results of the experimentation phase when it decides to extend the measure to other countries. In addition to the communication problems, the effect on existing subscriptions of the additional fee is sobering: Netflix may continue to lose subscribers rather than gain them. Also for this reason, the fight against password sharing should be associated with the introduction of a cheaper plan with advertising – this change is also expected by the end of the year.