It’s here: Netflix’s dreaded ‘Password Sharing Fee’, which stops people from sharing passwords with individuals who don’t live with them unless they pay extra – is now live in the UK.
Starting today, subscribers will receive an email from Netflix if they are found sharing their passwords outside their immediate living environment, warning that continued sharing will require additional charges.
In the e-mail, they will be told that a Netflix account is meant to be used by “you and the people you live with – your household” – and that if they want to let other people continue to use it – they’ll have to start paying more.
In the UK, each “Extra Member” will now cost an extra £4.99/month, and the number of members you can add depends on the Netflix tier you’re subscribed to (see full details below).
Why Is Netflix Clamping Down On Password Sharing?
Sharing your Netflix password has often been mentioned in money-saving guides as a way to share the cost of the popular American streaming service – either with family members who don’t necessarily live with you, or even among groups of friends.
But password sharing (with people who don’t actually live with you) is against Netflix’s terms of service.
For a long time, however, the company turned a blind eye to account sharing. But with customer numbers around the world declining, Netflix is now reiterating that “A Netflix account is intended for one household”.
According to Netflix, over 100 million households are currently sharing accounts, “impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films”.
Therefore, in recent months, Netflix started testing various means to combat password sharing – or at least earn from it, which is how the ‘Extra Members’ scheme came to be.
Back in February, Netflix launched its Paid Sharing / Extra Members programme in four additional countries, after a previous trial in Latin America: Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain.
Netflix recently admitted that when the password-sharing fee was introduced in new countries, a “cancel reaction” was seen – that is, people have cancelled their Netflix subscriptions in reaction to the new fee.
But while this has caused a reduction in the number of Netflix members in those countries – the numbers started going up again, along with revenue, once ‘Extra Members’ actually joined and started paying for a service they weren’t paying for before.
Recently, it was announced that the UK/US roll-out had been delayed, as Netlifx wanted to “learn” more about it – but now, it’s finally here.
Netflix’s Paid Sharing Fee In The UK: Full Details
Until now, if you were subscribed to Netflix’s “Standard Plan” (£10.99/month in the UK), you could stream content on up to two devices at the same time. The Premium Plan (£15.99/m) lets you stream on up to four devices.
This means that up to four individuals, who can be in different homes or even in different countries, can watch Netflix at the same time, under the same account. Of course, this also means Netflix gets just one paying subscriber instead of four.
The new Extra Members feature lets subscribers add paid sub-accounts for people they don’t live with, each with their own profile, personalized recommendations, login and password.
Furthermore, to help users who will find themselves without a Netflix account once a password is no longer shared with them, Netflix recently launched a new “Profile Transfer” feature, which lets people transfer their Netflix profile – with its personalized recommendations, viewing history and watchlist – to a new paid account.
Starting today, each extra member you add to your plan is going to cost you an extra £4.99/month (on top of what you’re paying for your subscription tier).
Remember – Extra Members have their own account and password, but their membership is paid for by the person who invited them to share their Netflix account.
The number of ‘Extra Members” you can add to an account, depends on the tier you’re subscribed to.
Note that subscribers with the Basic or Standard-with-adverts tiers can’t add any extra members to their plans.
So, Standard Plan subscribers can add one extra member, and Premium subscribers can currently add up to two extra members (at £4.99/m EACH).
The extra members will enjoy the same video quality as the member who is paying for them – so either 1080p or 4K.
There are a few additional caveats for Extra Members:
- They can only watch Netflix on one device at a time
- They can download titles for offline viewing (to a phone or a tablet) – but only to one device at a time
- Extra members can only have ONE profile (either a new one, or one that they transfer from a previous profile)
- This profile can have different maturity ratings, but cannot be a Kids profile
- Extra members must activate their account in the same country associated with the main account
It’s also worth noting that for the time being, the Paid Sharing scheme isn’t available if you pay via 3rd parties – that is, if you’re subscribed to Netflix via your Sky or Virgin Media bill, for example.
Sky has issued some guidance – and it’s bad news for its customers who are currently sharing Netflix passwords.
How Will Netflix Know I’m Sharing My Password?
Now that the ‘Extra Members’ scheme is live in the UK (and other countries), Netflix’s customers will have to set a ‘Primary Location’ for their account, on their TV at home.
A verification link will then be sent to the account’s email address or phone number.
Netflix will then use your WiFi or your Wired broadband connection and IP to ‘lock’ your primary location into one house (according to Netflix, they won’t be using any GPS information).
If you don’t actively set a Primary Location – Netflix will do it for you automatically, based on your IP address, device IDs and account activity.
At that point – anyone who tries to use your Netflix account in a different location – will eventually get some sort of notification, and his access will stop working.
Subscribers who don’t have a TV and only watch Netflix on mobile devices – won’t have to set a Primary Location for now.
However, If you have a second home or frequently travel to the same location, Netflix suggests you follow these steps:
From the main place you watch Netflix, connect to the internet and open the Netflix app on your mobile device(s) once a month.
Then, take the same steps when you arrive at your second location to continue watching Netflix without interruption.
What Happens If Netflix ‘Catches’ Me Sharing A Password?
Now that the Password Sharing Fee scheme is live, Netflix says offenders will be getting an e-mail from the company, that encourages them to add extra members.
While a timeframe isn’t mentioned specifically – without adding paid extra members, those outside your household will likely get blocked at some point.
The e-mail goes on to explain how to check whether others are using your account – and what your options are, including the new paid members scheme.
It’s interesting to note that while Netflix is enforcing these rules as part of their terms of service – the UK government announced earlier this year that, in some cases – password sharing might even be illegal.
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