Netflix Starts to Limit Password Sharing Outside Households

Watching your favorite Netflix series is about to get a little more difficult if you share an account with somebody outside your own household. The streaming giant is officially cracking down on Netflix password sharing, and some users are already starting to receive messages prompting them to sign up for their own Netflix subscription.

The messages seem to have begun appearing this month. Upon login, some Netflix viewers are greeted with a message reading, "If you don't live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching." To continue watching content, they must first verify the account they’re using with a code sent to either the email address or phone number associated with the account. Those unable to verify the account as their own are prompted to create their own account to sign up for a 30-day free trial.

According to The Streamable, the password sharing crackdown appears to only be a test at the moment and is only on TV devices. A Netflix spokesperson told the outlet that "this test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so." The spokesperson did not clarify how they determine who is in the same household, or if users in the test all need to be on the same IP address to be considered in the same household.

Netflix states that password sharing is not allowed in its terms and conditions, which reads in part, "The Netflix service and any content viewed through our service are for your personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household." Despite this, password sharing with those in different households has been a common practice for years, and research firm Magid found that 35% of millennials share passwords for streaming. More recently, however, as its base continues to grow, the streamer has publicly considered cracking down on the practice. Chief Product Officer Greg Peters in October 2019 said, "We continue to monitor it. So we're looking at the situation (and look into) consumer friendly ways to push on the edges," though he added that at the time the company had "no big plans" to announce in terms of doing something different.

Of course, for those unwilling to shell out the cash for their own subscription right now, they can still get a taste of Netflix via the streamer's Netflix Free Section. That section allows non-subscribers to view some of Netflix’s most popular originals, though for series, only a select number of episodes are available without a subscription. Netflix subscriptions are offered on three tiers – the basic plan ($8.99 per month), the standard plan ($13.99 per month), and the premium plan ($17.99 per month).