Why is Netflix asking who is watching

Shared streaming subscriptions - is Netflix now pushing the password?

The streaming provider is testing a function that should make subscription sharing more difficult. US users were asked to verify their account.

It might get harder to share your Netflix password. Several users from the USA were asked to verify their account with a code. "If you do not live with the owner of this account, you need your own subscription to continue looking," says the message. "Oh no, is Netflix starting to clean up?" Asks this user.

"The test is intended to ensure that people who use Netflix accounts are authorized," writes the streaming provider in a message. The new function will be rolled out for a limited number of users who watch via the Netflix TV app.

Netflix only allows sharing with members of your household. Depending on the subscription, you can create several profiles for different users who can then stream on up to four different devices at the same time (more on the topic: Streaming tips in March).

However, around a third of Netflix customers also share their password with people outside their own household, according to a study. "Subscription mooching" is what the industry calls it when users share their subscription with friends, relatives or neighbors - in German, "Abo scroung". The revenue that Netflix is ​​missing out on is said to be over $ 190 million per month.

On the trail of subscription dividers

There are technical possibilities to track down the subscription scroungers. The US company Synamedia has developed an artificial intelligence that searches for temporal and spatial anomalies in usage behavior. If a series in Zurich and Bern is watched over and over again using the same account, the alarm bells will ring in the program.

So far, Netflix has made little effort to prevent the password from being passed on. CEO Reed Hastings said in 2016: "We love it when people share Netflix." The calculation: if you have a scorched Netflix password, you don't pay, but you don't necessarily go to the competition either (more on the topic: platform hopping - will we all be choppers?).

But now the streaming market leader is fighting against several competitors who want to steal customers with newer video services. Disney +, for example, is experiencing very strong growth. At the beginning of March, the company had over 100 million paying customers for the first time. Other services like HBO Max or Peacock, as well as more established rivals like Amazon Prime or Hulu, are also putting Netflix under pressure. They all benefit from the streaming boom caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In December, for example, Netflix cracked the 200 million user mark for the first time.

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