It’s not me, it’s Netflix.
People are preparing to have that awkward conversation with friends and family as Netflix prepares to crack down on password sharing in the US
The popular streaming service will soon begin charging customers extra each month for sharing their Netflix accounts with someone outside their family.
So how do you tell your mooing Netflix buddies it’s over?
“Blame Netflix, loud and clear. Blame them again and blame them a third time,” said Jeffrey Hall, a University of Kansas associate professor of communication studies and friendship expert.
“It’s not like I’m kicking you off my account because I have someone else or because I don’t like you anymore. It’s Netflix doing it. And we know that in relationships, who is to blame makes a big difference.
Sharing the Netflix password was a sign of friendship
Sharing resources with friends and family is commonplace in cultures around the world, says Hall. “When it’s not an extra cost to me, sharing with you is a sign of friendship,” she said.
According to a 2022 Parks Associates survey, 40% of consumers in US Internet households share credentials or use shared credentials, up from 27% in 2019.
Family friends share their Disney account with Hall so his two children can watch children’s programming. If Disney follows Netflix’s lead, Hall says she’ll thank her friends for their generosity and let them off the hook.
“You as my friend wouldn’t force me to take on extra costs because it’s actually contraindicated in friendship,” Hall said. “You’re not going to say, ‘Hey Jeff, pay for my access so I keep getting it indefinitely.’ That’s not what friends do to each other.
Did Netflix unshare your password?
As subscriber growth has slowed, Netflix is trying to squeeze some extra cash out of freeloaders. The streaming service is under increasing pressure as competitors proliferate and people revert to their pre-pandemic viewing habits like commuting and traveling.
About 100 million people watch Netflix using someone else’s account, according to one company estimate.
So Netflix is starting to limit streaming access to people who live in the same household. Subscribers who want to share their accounts with people outside their household will have to pay for that access or lose it.
Netflix has rolled out the new restrictions in countries like New Zealand, Portugal and Spain and says the changes will be coming soon elsewhere as well.
Netflix subscribers around the world are excited about the new account sharing rule
Netflix executives say they know the new policy will be unpopular and some people could cancel their accounts. He hopes to lure them back with quality content.
But times are not easy for many. In Canada, Netflix subscribers are being asked to earn an extra $8 a month — $96 a year — when inflation and high interest rates are already squeezing household budgets.
Canadians took to social media to complain about the impact the new restrictions are having on kids in college, retired parents and unemployed friends.
How to talk to friends about stopping their access to Netflix
Having conversations about money can be touchy. But the cornerstones of friendship are kindness and forgiveness, says Hall.
“If you approach these conversations like this, they’ll probably be fine,” Hall said.
Janice McCabe, associate professor of sociology at Dartmouth College and author of “Connecting in College: How Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success,” says approach friends and family first by affirming your connection and letting them know how much you value the relationship.
“Then you can go into the technical details: Due to these new rule changes, you will not be able to continue using the account,” McCabe said.
You can also use Netflix’s policy as an opportunity to propose spending more time together along the lines of, “Since we can’t continue sharing how we used to be, let’s find a moment to watch our favorite show together.”
“This will create more in-person connection, as you watch the show, discuss the show, and plan these parties/get-togethers,” McCabe said. “It could also be a way to bring together a friendship or group of friends that hadn’t recovered from the COVID disruption, or to form a new bond if you craved more connection.”