Netflix's clampdown on password sharing isn't going too well

Mike Wheatley

Netflix’s efforts to clamp down on password sharing have not had the best of starts, and that could mean the company is forced to delay a wider, global rollout of surcharges applied to household members who access the service using a family member’s password.


Earlier in the year, the video streaming giant rolled out a pilot program in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru that billed certain customers an additional £2.50 a month for sharing their account passwords with others outside of their household. While the pilot is still only running in those countries, Netflix has been quite vocal about its plans to stop password sharing in the wake of disappointing financial results.

However a report by Rest of World says that the pilot program in Peru hasn’t gone as well as Netflix had hoped, with customers complaining over how the new policy is being policed and implemented.

Rest of World said it had surveyed dozens of Netflix subscribers in Peru, and that most had been confused by the company’s exact definition of what a “household” is. Others say they were never formally informed of the new policy.

Some users have reported being hit with the surcharge for sharing their password despite a lack of clarity over whether or not they qualified for the additional fee. Other users say they did receive account verification prompts but managed to ignore them without paying the surcharge.

Netflix said in response to the apparent confusion that it had informed all subscribers of the policy change via email, and that it has always been clear that “a Netflix account is for people who live together in a single household”.

The company did admit there was a need to “ramp up in-product notifications” however, which suggests it will be making a stronger effort to clarify exactly who has to pay the additional surcharge and who doesn’t. It also made it quite clear that the password-sharing surcharges are not going away.

Nonetheless, the confusion around the new charges suggests that Netflix may take its time implementing them in other markets, despite the company saying it has been “pleased with the response” so far.