Netflix’s test to crack down on password sharing has reportedly left some users confused, according to a report from Rest of World. The streaming service started experimenting with password-sharing solutions in Peru, Chile, and Costa Rica in March, prompting subscribers in these markets to pay an additional fee to enable streaming for others outside their household who use the same account.
When speaking to over a dozen Netflix subscribers in Peru, Rest of World found that most users weren’t formally made aware of the policy change through an email or notification sent by Netflix — not even two months out from Netflix’s initial announcement. The outlet also learned that Netflix’s level of enforcement varied from user to user, with some users on shared accounts reporting that they ignored validation prompts without any penalty to the account owner. Another user told Rest of World that they never got word of a policy change and continued to share their account without issue.
There’s also confusion surrounding Netflix’s definition of a “household” (as some may consider their immediate family members as part of the household), and it seems like Netflix is aware of that ambiguity. An anonymous customer support representative in Peru reportedly told Rest of World that she’s been asked to provide verification codes to subscribers who call in about having someone within their household using their account from another location. This allows members outside a subscriber’s home to continue using the shared account for free.
“While we started working on paid sharing over 18 months ago, we have been clear for five years that ‘A Netflix account is for people who live together in a single household,’” Netflix spokesperson Kumiko Hidaka said in an emailed statement to The Verge. “The millions of members who are actively sharing an account in these countries have been notified by email but given the importance of this change, we are ramping up in-product notifications more slowly. We’re pleased with the response to date.”
The cost for an additional account is less than signing up for a separate new account (which is supposed to make it seem more like a deal, and less like a way for Netflix to eke out a little more subscriber growth). Netflix charges an extra 2,380 CLP ($2.89 USD) in Chile, 2.99 USD in Costa Rica, and 7.9 PEN ($2.13 USD) in Peru to add up to two users located outside an account holder’s household.
A crackdown on password sharing was imminent after Netflix reported losing subscribers for the first time in over a decade in its most recent earnings report, though it still has 74.58 million subscribers in the US and Canada and 222 million globally. The company is set to undergo quite a few shifts as it attempts to find new subscribers — and struggles to hold onto the ones it has in the face of growing competition. Netflix execs reportedly told employees the company will introduce a cheaper, ad-supported plan within the year, offering a cheaper way to stay in the fold after long-term subscribers have seen almost yearly price hikes. It’s also exploring livestreaming in an effort to compete with the ever-growing Disney Plus.