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24 May 2023

Netflix's Password-Sharing Crackdown: A Risky Bet for the Streaming Giant

Netflix's Password-Sharing Crackdown: A Risky Bet for the Streaming Giant

With the abundance of choices available to consumers in the streaming market, Netflix's brand will soon be put to the test. The company recently announced its plan to roll out password-sharing restrictions globally, estimating that 100 million households globally share their user accounts. However, the move has faced backlash from consumers, and Netflix's viewpoint on password sharing has changed due to increased competition in the streaming market. Additionally, Netflix has faced challenges with the composition of its content offerings and falling subscriber numbers.

The Changing Viewpoint on Password Sharing

Netflix once encouraged password sharing as a means of introducing its service to a wider range of consumers. However, the company now sees moochers as lost profits, estimating that 100 million households globally share their user accounts, 30 million of which are in the U.S. and Canada. Netflix's viewpoint on password sharing has changed due to increased competition in the streaming market. Where Netflix was once the leading service for cord-cutters, consumers today have a range of services to choose from, including those with sizable IP catalogs, like Disney+; those offering live TV access, like Hulu; and those with must-watch shows, like HBO Max, newly rebranded as Max.

Challenges with Content Offerings and Falling Subscriber Numbers

Netflix has faced challenges with the composition of its content offerings and falling subscriber numbers. One of the things that made Netflix a must-have in the past was the expansiveness of its content offerings, including back catalog fare and popular films. That's suffered in recent years as rights owners pulled back their best shows and movies in order to beef up their own services. Additionally, Netflix has admitted that it needs to make more series and films that consumers love and release hits more often.

The Risky Bet for Netflix

The timing of the crackdown is also a risky bet for Netflix, as economic uncertainty and post-COVID readjustments have led to high prices for food, gas, and rent, which have consumers more closely watching their wallets and dumping unnecessary subscriptions. Netflix has ensured investors that the cancellations that will result from its password crackdowns will be a temporary setback. However, it has yet to test that theory in the U.S. and other markets. During its first-quarter earnings, Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters said the results of the crackdown in the first test markets looked much like how subscribers reacted to price increases. It found that some moochers would sign up for their own accounts or people would pay for the extra members like parents, perhaps, supporting their adult children living outside the home. To what extent this strategy will be successful in the U.S. and other markets remains to be seen.


Netflix, password sharing, streaming market, competition, cord-cutters, IP catalogs, Netflix member, Squid Game, cancellations, subscribers, implementation

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