I started binging The Maid on Netflix recently. It was to be a quiet night in, watching the next episode. I hit the Netflix button on my remote and was confused by what I saw. The TV was asking me to set up a household. Ugh. I didn’t take long for it to dawn on me what all this was about. Netflix is cracking down on password sharing and it’s starting now.
What is Netflix Household?
People share their Netflix account details and passwords with close friends and family. It’s the worst-kept secret in the world. Netflix has even joked about it in the past.
But Netflix is a big public company. A public company with shareholders that get angry when profits aren’t being made. For years, Netflix has been turning the dial on subscription costs, closing the gap between them and the likes of Virgin Media and Sky on the scale of consumers feeling ripped off.
I bought a new telly this year. It supports UHD and so I couldn’t resist going the whole hog with Netflix. €21.99 per month for Netflix with UHD support. Ouch. The extra high quality was how Netflix pleased its shareholders, until now.
Netflix Household is the company’s way of cracking down on password sharing. The plan is obviously to force non-account-holders away from piggy-backing and into their own accounts or for the account holder to pay €5 per month extra for account sharing.
Clever, but cynical given the company used to joke about this.
How Does Netflix Household Work?
Right now, this only seems to impact people who watch Netflix on an actual TV. The reason? Well, this is a really difficult thing to implement. What is a household? People travel a lot, watching on phones and tablets. How can you crack down without negatively impacting people using their Netflix accounts outside the house while paying nearly €30 per month.
First of all, your IP address is important. Your home internet connection is assigned an IP address. This is a short string of numbers that identifies your internet connection in the world. Everyone has one. Netflix Household will use this to set up your home and, more importantly, recognise when someone logs into your account on a TV that isn’t on that same IP address.
The catch with this is that IP address nearly always change. This means Netflix Household will require regular resetting and notifications asking customers to check in on their TV to keep the household setup.
The Big Netflix Cancel
Understandably, customers don’t like this carry-on. Netflix used to be the symbol of chord-cutting. The big value alternative to the daylight robbery of Sky or Virgin Media TV packages. But now, the gap between Netflix and these services is tighter. The fragmented nature of streaming has become as bad, if not worse, than traditional TV services.
In the past, I’ve spoken about this being “death by a thousand cuts“. Family’s need Netflix for the parents, but Disney+ for the kids and Amazon Prime to do their shopping, but it brings more streaming to the TV too. I just watched Air on Prime Video last night. Very good, but another movie that will be exclusively available on just one streaming service.
Will customers just start canceling? Well, they might!
There is one big underground movement now that stands up against all of these services and it’s called IPTV. Looking at Google Trends, I can see that lots of people search for “dodgy box” in Ireland, along with “avoid paying TV license”. That gives you an idea of where people’s minds are.
Dodgy boxes are absolutely not legal. Just last month a Tallaght man narrowly avoided jail for selling these boxes. But people don’t have as much money as they did a few years ago. And entertainment services are squeezing at the worst possible time, pushing people towards making questionable decisions.
Realistically, Netflix Household likely won’t really kick in for another while. The company needs to balance this clamping down on password-sharing along with not impacting the genuine cases. And that’s going to be tough.
For me personally. I probably won’t cancel. Despite the costs and the often poor content (or maybe ability to find good content), it’s handy to have Netflix just there. But will others cancel? Only time will tell.