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Netflix is cracking down on sharing logins with people who don’t live under the same roof.
This stance from the streaming giant behind binge-worthy fare such as Grace and Frankie, Ozark and Stranger Things may leave you wondering whether other streaming services you routinely watch will require a separate account for all viewers at different addresses.
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The move puts those sharing passwords or mooching off others on notice. But it also opens the door for streaming providers to adopt the kind of friends-and-family plans prevalent in the cellphone industry.
“I think Netflix gets the argument that you might be sharing a password with your sister in another state or introducing Mom and Dad to new content through password sharing,” Andrew Hare, New York-based senior vice president of research, global media and entertainment at Magid research strategy, said last year.
But after the country’s largest streaming service began losing large numbers of customers for the first time since 2011, it sought other ways to grow. In March 2022, Netflix began testing two paid sharing features in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru that provided an early hint that password sharing in the United States was on borrowed time.
That time ran out in mid-May. The company started sending emails to password offenders May 23, indicating that “Your Netflix account is for you and the people you live with — your household.” Netflix defines a household as a “collection of the devices connected to the internet at the main place you watch Netflix,” though the company says you can continue to watch on the go or while vacationing in a hotel or second home.
Netflix determines which devices belong to a household through a combination of IP addresses, device IDs and account activity. The company says it does not collect GPS data to figure out the precise location of your devices.
You have options
If you’ve been watching on your adult son’s or daughter’s dime or allowing your college-age kids to enjoy programming on your account, you have some decisions to make.
- Extra member. Ask the primary account holder to sign you up as an extra member or create an extra member account for your child for an additional $7.99. The advantage: Any separate profile will live on and ad-free streaming will continue. The disadvantage: The person on the account pays the entire bill and the extra member can stream on only one device at a time.
- New member. Become an independent account holder. Netflix with ads, the lowest price plan, is $6.99 a month. A profile can be transferred from the existing account.
- No service. Save some money until the season changes. That could mean months without streaming, but no streaming services charge fees for starting or canceling. You can sign up again when you’re spending more time indoors, but your profile won’t be saved.
If you like ad-free TV, Netflix has three other plans to choose from: The Basic $9.99 monthly plan lets viewers watch on one screen at a time. The $15.49 Standard plan lets them watch on two screens at the same time, including in high definition. Premium at $19.99 monthly allows four screens simultaneously, downloads on six supported devices at a time and includes Ultra HD content where available.
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