It’s a time-honored tradition to borrow someone’s Netflix password. Your friend, your cousin, your ex, your friend’s cousin’s ex—sources for acquiring log-in info are varied and winding, but are all part of the broader Netflix experience as you sojourn toward making your own account, once and for all. Eventually. At some point.
Netflix, however, seems to be getting serious about putting a stop to all that. The streamer has been testing out a new feature that will crack down on password sharing, according to GammaWire. Per the tech site, the following message has been popping up on some user’s screens as part of a test rollout: “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” In order to keep watching, users are asked to verify the account information with a text or email that gets sent to the account owner, or they can select the option to “verify later.”
Netflix confirmed the new feature in a statement to the The Hollywood Reporter, noting that the test has received a limited rollout. “This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a Netflix spokesperson told the outlet. A source familiar with the tests told THR the rollout varies from country to country.
Netflix, which boasts 203.67 million users worldwide, has been fairly sanguine about password sharing over the years, acknowledging that this practice just comes with the territory. “Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with, because there’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids…so there’s no bright line, and we’re doing fine as is,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in 2016.
The streamer has, in fact, been thriving in the last year. It was one of the few major film and TV platforms to see its stock rise during the pandemic, as people were stuck indoors, clicking around for new movies and shows to watch from the comfort of their couches. The streamer has also hit new viewership highs, setting records with shows like The Queen’s Gambit and Bridgerton.
Still, cracking down on password sharing has been on the streamer’s mind. In 2019, there were rumblings that Netflix was banding together with competitors like Disney and Amazon to combat piracy and put a stop to “improper password sharing.” While users may not be pleased to hear it—especially considering the financial strain of keeping up with the fractured streaming world–it was likely always in the cards for something like this to happen. Enjoy the golden age of password sharing while you still can.
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