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Pop CultureFebruary 9, 2023

The days of free Netflix password sharing are officially over


Here’s how much it will cost to share your Netflix account now. 

“Love,” Netflix once wrote on its official Twitter account, “is sharing a password”. Not any more. This month Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing reaches New Zealand. This will affect every Netflix customer who, up until now, has willingly given their username and password to friends and family so they can use the TV streaming service for free.

In a statement, Netflix said password sharing was affecting its ability to create quality content: “Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts — impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films,” said Netflix’s director of product innovation, Chengyi Long. Her statement confirmed that from now on: “A Netflix account is intended for one household.”

Previously, Netflix users could share their account with up to four people for free. While no specific local statistics have been provided, anecdotally a lot of people do this. Thanks to a new Netflix initiative called, “setting a primary location,” that now won’t be possible. From today, every Netflix account will be limited to use from that single primary location.

To continue sharing a Netflix account, users will need to have a Standard account ($18.49 a month), from which they can add one extra member (an added $7.99). For those who have a Premium account ($24.99 a month) then add up to two extra members (an extra $7.99 each). Potentially, a monthly Netflix bill for one person and two extra members could now total $40.97, making it the most expensive streaming service on the market.

Households with individual profiles on the same account (ie families with kids) will still be OK, with two simultaneous streams allowed under a Standard account and four under Premium. Users can also take their accounts with them when they’re travelling by changing their primary location using their mobile phone.

For those taking advantage of a friend’s account for free, they’ll have to choose a paid model, but they’ll be able to take their account with them. Here’s a confusing graphic explaining how the pricing plan works. You can find Netflix’s pricing structures here (The basic plan with ads is not yet available in New Zealand.)

Netflix’s has unveiled a bold new pricing structure to curb account sharing. (Screengrab: Netflix)

In comparison to Netflix’s new pricing tiers, Apple TV+ costs $12.99 a month, Disney+ costs $14.99 a month, Neon costs $17.99 a month, AMC+ costs $9.99 a month, and Amazon Prime Video remains the cheapest option at around $8 a month. Only Apple has a separate family plan. The rest allow password sharing for free.

Despite controversy around the change, it’s likely to be a revenue boon for Netflix, which remains by far the largest streaming service in Aotearoa. It’s unlikely users will want to turn the service off completely, especially with Netflix having some of its biggest hits recently in Wednesday and Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.

Those affected may bite the bullet and turn to a basic plan ($12.99) before an ad-supported service becomes available. Or, they may become even more ruthless with their savvy switching.

A crackdown on password sharing was first floated last year when Netflix shares took a nosedive after announcing it had lost subscribers for the first time. In response, it trialled cheaper ad-supported pricing plans and cracked down on password sharing in Latin America. Today’s announcement also affects users in Canada, Portugal and Spain.

In her statement, Long sold the changes as a way of solving “confusion” over how and when customers can share Netflix. But there wasn’t any confusion at all. Too many people were sharing their passwords too freely, and it was affecting Netflix’s bottom line. “Love is dead,” responded one user after this morning’s announcement. Or maybe it’s just business.

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