Netflix is testing ways to put a stop to account sharing

Mike Wheatley

Netflix is reportedly fully aware that many of its subscribers like to partake in “account sharing”, such as when away-from-home students login to the service using their parent’s credentials. Now, it’s working on a way of allowing people to do this without breaking its rules, but doing so won’t be free.


The video streaming service is said to be testing a new feature that will add a surcharge for those who allow their membership to be used outside of their main household.

The feature will be called “Add an Extra Member” and will enable those on Standard and Premium plans to add sub accounts for up to two users living at different addresses. It’s likely to roll out in the U.S. first of all and users will be charged $2.99 a month for each sub account, which will have its own ID and password, plus profile and personalized recommendations.

The test run right now is taking place in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru.

Netflix is also said to be working on a second feature that allows users to transfer their profile to one of the new sub accounts, so they can see the same viewing history, lists and recommendations.

Netflix said in a blog post discussing the new features that so many people have been sharing accounts across households that it is “impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films for our members”.

In other words it’s all about the money, and Netflix feels like it’s being short-changed. It’s not clear if the new feature will actually be rolled out though, as the company says it’s simply aiming to “understand the utility of these two features” before it makes changes elsewhere in the world.

What wasn’t said is what will happen to those families who refuse to partake in the offer of paying for sub accounts. Clearly, Netflix is fully aware that there are people who’re sharing one account across multiple abodes. A 2019 survey from MoffettNathanson found that around 14% of its users are watching the service without paying for it.

While Netflix’s accounts do allow for two-to-four people to watch at the same time, these people are all supposed to be living in the same house, though they’re allowed to watch on a mobile device while out and about. But Netflix’s subscriptions aren’t meant to be shared by people living at different addresses.

If Netflix does go ahead and roll out sub accounts, it’s fair to assume it may also try to do something about those who refuse to pay extra. Whether it actually can do anything about it remains to be seen, though.