(NEXSTAR) – Netflix has already indicated that it is ready to roll out some new rules when it comes to password sharing in the US. Changes rolled out in three other countries show what US users can expect soon.
In a letter to shareholders last month, Netflix said it expects paid account sharing to roll out “more broadly” by the end of the first quarter of 2023. The streaming giant estimates that more than 100 million households have shared accounts, which “undermines our long-term ability to invest in and improve Netflix.”
Executives explained in the letter that they expect some users to cancel their accounts when paid sharing launches, but that “borrowing households” will open their own accounts. How the paid password sharing will be enforced and how much it will cost has not been released.
Netflix has been exploring ways to combat password sharing, including a login verification process in 2021 and using sub-accounts for people who live outside the account owner’s home in 2022.
The latter was tested in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru. Netflix appears to have rolled out new account sharing rules in these countries and this week updated the help pages for all three.
According to those pages, anyone in the account holder’s home — known as their “primary location” — can use that Netflix account. Those who are away from home must use their own account.
Account holders must set their primary location while signed in to Netflix on a TV connected to their home Wi-Fi network. Then, all devices connected to the Wi-Fi network at the primary location can access the holder’s Netflix account, while devices attempting to access the account from other locations may be blocked. If an account owner doesn’t set their primary location, Netflix will automatically say so using their IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity.
Once a primary location is set, Netflix users will be prompted to “watch something at least once every 31 days” to keep their devices associated with the location.
To share the Netflix account with someone outside of the primary location, the company says the account owner can add an additional member to their account for a small fee.
Netflix users in these three countries may also be blocked from streaming on some devices if they try to access the platform while traveling or after moving house. In that case, Netflix says users must either stream something before leaving their primary location to create a “trusted device,” or request a temporary code to authenticate their device “and continue watching Netflix for seven consecutive days.” .
It’s not clear how these changes will affect accounts with plans that allow multiple screens. It’s also not clear if Netflix plans to bring the same system to the US – Netflix didn’t immediately respond to Nexstar’s request for comment.
Netflix’s move to tackle password sharing is a shift from the company’s previous stance. Then-CEO Reed Hastings (he stepped down as CEO last month) said in 2016 that Netflix would not charge users for sharing their passwords. Instead, he called password sharing “something you have to learn to live with,” CNBC reports.
Hastings had also never been a fan of advertisements, calling them a distraction from the entertainment the service provides. But in November, Netflix launched a fourth plan, “Basic with Ads,” which includes “an average of 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour.” Users with this subscription also do not have access to the full library of Netflix.