Netflix is apparently declaring war on so-called account sharing. That was not always so.
Netflix account is requested
US media reported that in March, query windows appeared occasionally when you log in with your Netflix account. The following text could be seen in the window:
“Start your own Netflix today. If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you’ll need your own account to look further. “
A request to confirm the account appears below the message. The options are confirmation by email, SMS or confirmation at a later date.
So far, the window only appears when trying to log in on a TV set. It is currently unclear whether Netflix recognizes that a login attempt is being made from a location that does not correspond to the location of the account owner. The company has long been working on a tool to recognize when the password is shared with others. Netflix only allows an account to be used within one household.
TECHNOLOGY BUTTON asked Netflix whether the company wanted to take action against account sharing. A press spokesman told us: “This test is intended to ensure that Netflix accounts are only used by people who are authorized to do so.” In Germany, the tests would also not take place.
When is it allowed to share the password?
Basically, Netflix offers some account splitting features aimed at allowing multiple people to use the same login. This is even anchored in the company’s terms and conditions. There it is written that sharing an account is generally allowed. However, this only applies to people who live in the same household. The basic subscription (7.99 euros per month) is intended for single people, while the standard subscription is designed for two-person households and the premium subscription is intended for families with up to four users.
With the basic subscription, series and films can be accessed on just one device. Whereas with the standard subscription, two devices can be streamed at the same time. Owners of the premium subscription even have the pleasure of being able to watch on four devices at the same time.
Related to the topic: Netflix is now taking action against account sharing
When Netflix bans account sharing
The fact that many Netflix subscribers share their password is not just a guess. The behavior is so popular among Netflix customers that it is almost part of good form. This is the result of a survey by the TV station CNBC . More than 35 percent of those surveyed stated that they regularly share accounts with Netflix. On average, one in ten people used the streaming service in this way without paying for it.
The basic subscription is actually intended for single households, while the standard and premium subscription were designed for families whose members all live under one roof. However, many friends or colleagues use a joint premium account to reduce monthly costs. This is of course a thorn in the side of Netflix.
The provider is said to miss monthly income of more than one hundred million dollars through this handling. Another consequence of passing on the account data is the stagnation of the number of users, which is no less problematic for the company than the financial losses.
However, the focus is not only on passing on the passwords of individual accounts, family accounts will soon no longer be usable from different IP addresses.
Netflix product manager Greg Peters threatened with the announcement of the business figures in the third quarter of 2019 that the company wanted to declare war on the disclosure of passwords as soon as possible. You are following what is happening closely, he said and promised: “We will find a consumer-friendly solution to this problem.”
Netflix hasn’t always been against account sharing
Account sharing was originally not a thorn in the side of Netflix. After all, the company itself has called the ghosts, which it can no longer get rid of. In 2017 the streaming portal propagated its own generosity and sent a tweet with the message “Love is sharing a password” around the world. Even then, users reacted with irritation and asked whether this was not illegal. At this point at the latest, Pandora’s box was open.
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How does Netflix recognize unauthorized account sharing?
So far it is not known how to check whether the users actually live together. There are different approaches. The music streaming service Spotify, for example, uses random samples (sending documents / proof of address) to ensure that all users of a family package are also registered at the same address. The announcement by the Swedish music portal that it would randomly check the location of users using Google Maps came to nothing for data protection reasons.
Artificial intelligence could therefore also help to catch the black sheep in the act. In the USA, Synamedia presented software at the beginning of 2019 that should help identify non-paying users. The tool uses usage data such as login data, location and time for the evaluation.
Apart from this purpose, this type of software could also be used to force users to switch to a premium service or to close their Netflix account.
Data security experts are already sounding the alarm: “They are already monitoring this by blocking the activation of a third screen when two other monitors are already in operation at the same time,” advises Michael Pachter, IT expert at Wedbush Securities . “That leads to problems when users are in different time zones. As is the case with many households with children in college. “