Netflix Sets Deadline, Method for Anti-Password Sharing

The days of sharing your Netflix password are soon coming to an end. Nearly a year after the streaming company first warned that a global crackdown on password sharing could be implemented, and years after rumors that such restrictions could be on the horizon, the company in late January announced plans to begin cracking down on Netflix password sharing in the U.S., revealing a date for the move to start and further details on how it will affect subscribers.

The news was confirmed in an updated Help Center document, which no longer seems to be available online but was spotted by The Streamable and is also accessible via Wayback Machine. According to that post, Netflix will begin implementing limitations on password sharing beginning in March. When the new rules go into place, only those in your household, which Netflix describes as "those who live with you at your primary location," will be able to use your Netflix account. To prevent password sharing outside of your household, per the document, Netflix explained, "to ensure that your devices are associated with your primary location, connect to the Wi-Fi at your primary location, open the Netflix app or website, and watch something at least once every 31 days." If the device is not connected to your Wi-Fi in that 31-day period, it will be blocked from streaming Netflix. The document went on to explain how Netflix detects devices within a primary location, explaining, "we use information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity to determine whether a device signed into your account is connected to your primary location."

Netflix also got ahead of any possible confusion regarding viewing Netflix while away from your primary location. Although the company acknowledged that "if you are away from your primary location for an extended period of time, your device may be blocked from watching Netflix," it explained that subscribers can get around this by requesting a temporary access code to continue watching.

Netflix went on to share that it will not automatically charge subscribers for sharing their account with someone who doesn't live with them. However, the streamer did also note, "people who aren't part of your household will need to use their own account to watch Netflix. Devices that are not part of your primary location may be blocked from watching Netflix." No further information was given.

The crackdown on password sharing has been a long time coming in the U.S. — and just last week, per CBS News, Netflix told investors that more than 100 million households currently share Netflix passwords, something that "undermines our long-term ability to invest in and improve Netflix." Password-sharing restrictions have already been implemented in some regions, including in Latin America, on a trial basis. In some regions, including South America, the company even offered an additional charge, ranging between $3 and $4, to share accounts with people outside your household. Greg Peters, Netflix's recently promoted co-CEO, told investors on the call that "this will not be a universally popular move, so there will be current members that are unhappy with this move. We'll see a bit of a cancel reaction to that."