Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

Netflix ends free password ‘piggybacking’ in the UK

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Streaming giant Netflix has clamped down on password sharing outside of the account holder’s household.

Netflix is in the process of emailing customers who share the service outside their household to clarify rules and payment options for other people watching via the same account.

The email reads: “Your Netflix account is for you and the people you live with – your household.

“You can easily watch Netflix on the go and when you travel – either on your personal devices or a TV at a hotel or holiday home.”

It added that customers should check who’s using their Netflix by reviewing which devices are signed in to their account. These devices should then be signed out, with account holders told to consider changing passwords.

For those who want to share their Netflix details with someone outside of their household, there are options:

  • Transfer a profile to a new member which they’ll need to pay for
  • Buy an extra member – share your account with someone in a different household from £4.99 a month.

If you have been watching Netflix for free and will miss your favourite shows, see YourMoney.com’s Three alternative streaming services for more information.

Pulling the plug on password sharing

Earlier this year, Netflix confirmed it was to clampdown on password sharing, with ‘piggybackers’ expected to lose access to the service by the end of March 2023.

In a letter to investors in January, Netflix stated: “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.”

But this has been on the cards for much longer, with Netflix users reporting back in March 2021 that they were being prompted to verify they live with the account holder when accessing the service.

Jeff Richey, TV analyst at WatchTVAbroad.com, said: “The writing has been on the wall for months, but Netflix has finally pulled the plug on the thousands of Brits who have been sharing friends’ and family members’ accounts.

“The streaming giant sees these add-on customers as a valuable source of extra revenue now the growth of its subscriber base has slowed. Yet this controversial move could well see viewers turn away from the streaming giant.

“It is going to test customer loyalty at a time when competition among streaming platforms has never been fiercer. Most Netflix users are on rolling monthly contracts so it’s easy for them to jump ship, and the cost of living means TV subscriptions are often the first to go when households tighten their belts.”

Netflix said: “A Netflix account is for use by one household. Everyone living in that household can use Netflix wherever they are – at home, on the go, on holiday – and take advantage of new features like Transfer Profile and Manage Access and Devices.

“We recognise that our members have many entertainment choices. It’s why we continue to invest heavily in a wide variety of new films and TV programmes – so whatever your taste, mood or language and whoever you’re watching with, there’s always something satisfying to watch on Netflix.”

Spanish backlash to ban

When the move was rolled out in Spain at the beginning of year and viewers were forced to pay extra, it lost more than a million subscribers in the first quarter of the year, according to research firm Kantar.

Dominic Sunnebo, global insight director at Kantar’s Worldpanel Division said: “There are, of course, inherent risks with clamping down on password sharing, particularly when back in 2017, Netflix was seen to be actively encouraging it.

“Some users were expected to be lost in the process but losing over one million users in a little over a month has major implications for Netflix and whether it decides to continue with its crackdown globally. Monitoring the next few quarters to see how many of these consumers decide to re-subscribe will be vital to Netflix strategy in this space.”