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Netflix clamp down on password sharing: Three alternative streaming services

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

The world’s biggest streaming service will put an end to password ‘piggybacking’ outside of the paying household, a move that could ultimately cost you extra.

Netflix streamers who currently share accounts outside their own household could lose access to the service by the end of March 2023.

And this could mean either forgoing your favourite shows, signing up to one of the streaming service’s tariffs or paying extra for a shared service.

In a letter to investors this week, Netflix said: “Later in Q1, we expect to start rolling out paid sharing more broadly. Today’s widespread account sharing (100m+ households) undermines our long-term ability to invest in and improve Netflix, as well as build our business.”

It comes after users reported in March 2021 that they were being prompted to verify they ‘live with the account holder’ when accessing the Netflix service.

‘Shake-up of the streaming industry’

Catherine Hiley, TV and streaming expert at comparison site, said: “Netflix’s decision to introduce a fee for password sharing will have a huge impact on its millions of UK subscribers.

“From spring, family members living in different households will no longer be able to use the same profile and view content for free. Instead, they will need separate login details and will be required to pay a charge to join another account.

“It’s a considerable shake-up of the streaming industry and marks a shift in focus from Netflix, from subscriber growth and market share to driving profit.”

Enforcing the ban

The streaming giant has always limited the service to one household and banned password sharing, but crucially, this rule was never strictly enforced. That is about to change.

Netflix said: “While our terms of use limit use of Netflix to a household, we recognise this is a change for members who share their account more broadly.

“As we roll out paid sharing, members in many countries will also have the option to pay extra if they want to share Netflix with people they don’t live with. As is the case today, all members will be able to watch while traveling, whether on a TV or mobile device.”

The password sharing ban has already been trialed in Latin American, and after a brief fall in traffic, the streamer said that “engagement [grew] over time as we continue to deliver a great slate of programming and borrowers sign-up for their own accounts.”

Current Netflix prices

The pricing for a new shared access model has not been announced, but current packages for the service are as follows:

  • Basic: £4.99 per month for an ad-supported service. This includes one device at a time and no downloads.
  • One-device standard: £6.99 per month. Standard definition, one device at a time.
  • Standard: £10.99 per month. HD compatible, two devices at a time.
  • Premium: £15.99 per month. HD and Ultra HD compatible, four devices at a time.

The options for Netflix password sharers

If you’re currently piggybacking off your friend or family’s Netflix for free and you want to continue watching it, Netflix will soon offer an option to add paid sharing, which will be less expensive than taking out a full plan, Hiley said.

However, if you already subscribe to a pay-TV service with Sky, you should be able to get a Netflix account included with your deal, as it is now part of its main TV packages, according to Uswitch.

Hiley said: “Before moving to any new streaming service, see if you can take advantage of its free trial first. While Netflix no longer offers trials to new customers, you can still try out some of the other big streaming platforms, like Amazon Prime Video, NOW, Apple TV Plus and ITVX (which includes BritBox) for free. This could also be a way to binge-watch a specific programme you have been waiting to see.”

Meanwhile, Uswitch lists the other streaming options available:

Disney Plus: £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year (2,296 titles available)

Hiley said: “Disney Plus costs £3 less than Netflix’s standard £10.99 monthly fee and paying the annual free upfront will save you an extra 15% on top. If you have children, its back catalogue of classic Disney movies makes it a definite winner, while complete Marvel and Star Wars franchises means there’s plenty for adults to enjoy too.”

Apple TV+: From £6.99 a month

Hiley said: “Despite a recent price rise, Apple TV+ is still one of the cheapest of the big streaming services. Unlike Netflix, it exclusively focuses on original series like Severance and Slow Horses. Its selection of movies is slightly limited but emphasises quality over quantity.

“If you are already an Apple user or planning to buy a new device, an Apple One subscription will allow you to bundle other popular services like Apple Music, Apple Arcade and iCloud+ together from £16.95 a month, saving £7 on the cost of subscribing to them individually.”

Amazon Prime Video: £5.99 (Video only); £8.99 or £95 a year with Amazon Prime account; £4.49 for Prime Student (8,799 title available)

Hiley said: “With the fortune of Jeff Bezos behind it, Amazon Prime Video is the streaming service that is shaping up to be the biggest all-rounder on the market.

“Not only does it contain a wealth of blockbuster movies, but in recent years, it has invested heavily in original series such as Lord of the Rings spin-off, The Rings of Power, whose first season cost an estimated £400 million.

“If you can live without the other Amazon Prime benefits, at £5.99, its streaming-only deal is cheaper than rivals’ standard packages. If you’re a football fan, it’s likely to be the best choice too, as it has the rights to show several Premier League games a season. From 2024, it will also broadcast Champions League fixtures.”