Netflix users are being asked to verify their account, in a trial that seems to be a clampdown on account and password sharing. Some users have reported seeing a message that states ‘If you don't live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching’.
As part of the trial, those who receive this message will be able to verify that they are allowed to view content on their account by entering a code received via text or email. So far, affected users have been given the option to delay verification and continue watching Netflix.
A spokesperson for the streaming service has said that ‘This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorised to do so’.
Netflix’s terms of service specify that accounts are to be used by individuals in the same household, although to date that hasn’t been heavily enforced. Although there are no official figures on how many people use Netflix in breach of the platform’s terms of service, research firm Magid has estimated that about a third of Netflix users share their passwords with someone else.
This current trial contrasts with a statement made by Netflix co-founder and co-chief executive, Reed Hastings, during a 2016 webcast: ‘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 reported that it had passed 200 million subscribers globally in January 2021, but is facing fierce competition from streaming rivals such as Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. The latter company in particular has seen strong growth, reporting 94.9 million subscribers in February, blowing past its 4-year goal of 90 million users in just 14 months of operation. This has resulted in more pressure being placed on Netflix as the world’s premier streaming platform, with the company needing to balance attracting new subscribers with ensuring customer satisfaction and maintaining revenue growth.