Netflix Will Now Charge You To Share Your Password

Netflix has been talking about cracking down on password sharing for months now, but the streaming giant has finally unveiled a concrete plan to do so, and it's ... something. According to Variety, the company shared a planned email to customers today explaining that any additional user who attempts to access customers' Netflix accounts outside the subscriber's home (with an apparent workaround for traveling subscribers) must pay an additional $7.99 per month. The company also introduced the idea of transferring a profile, which will ostensibly allow new subscribers who were previously using a profile on a friend or family member's account to keep their preferences and watch history if they switch to a paid account.

The problems with Netflix's plan are pretty easy to foresee. People travel all the time, live in more than one home, and use personal devices. The email assures subscribers they can still do this, but includes no description of how Netflix will differentiate between actual subscribers and friends or family members mooching on their account. A previous report from February — when Netflix was already testing its "add a member" idea in select countries including Canada — indicates that Netflix plans to block specific devices from use after a certain number of days if they're considered not within the primary household. Again: how will Netflix know? If it's an IP address-based block, will VPN users be able to get around it, or be blocked from Netflix altogether?

Fork up $7.99 or lose access to Netflix

Netflix is, of course, trying to stay afloat during a particularly unstable time for the streaming era, and their execs seem to think this new plan will work. In a quarterly earnings call quoted by Variety, Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters said he expects some subscribers to initially cancel in response to the policy, as they have with previous price increases. Yet he seems to anticipate Netflix users getting on board. He says some secondary users "are watching as much of our shows as a normal paying account, and those folks have very strong likelihood to convert" to the new payment model.

But what about people like my mom, who uses my Netflix despite being states away but watches it rarely, and only when I'm not using our one-screen plan? The decision might make business sense, but it doesn't seem particularly equitable for families (like mine) that include several subscribers who live alone. It also seems like it could be the beginning of the end of distinctive Netflix user profiles — which used to be touted as a major perk for the streamer — as we know it.

Netflix reportedly warned shareholders that subscriber growth will likely be hurt in the short term by the announcement, but pointed to Canada as an example of where the additional members plan has seen relative success. The Netflix email doesn't indicate when extra users will have to fork up the $7.99 or be on their merry way, but does ask account holders to double-check which devices they're signed into.