Want to see “The Queen’s Gambit” or “Lupine”? If you borrowed a Netflix password from a family member or friend, you may have to pay now.
Netflix has begun testing a feature that could prompt users who are borrowing a password from someone outside of their household to purchase subscriptions.
The company says this feature is being tested with a limited number of users. It could signal a broader restraint on the common password-sharing habit between relatives and friends to avoid paying for popular streaming services.
“The test is designed to help ensure that Netflix account users are allowed to do so,” the company said in a statement.
Some users began to notice This feature is more recent when they log into their shared Netflix account and see a message on their screen that says “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need to have your own account. me to continue watching “.
To continue watching, these users are required to verify that it is their account by entering a code sent to them via text or email, or joining with their own account with Netflix. They also have the option to complete the verification process later.
A basic Netflix subscription, which allows customers to watch on one screen at the same time, costs $ 8.99 a month. Customers paying more money can watch them on additional monitors simultaneously.
Testing also seems to be an incentive to buy a subscription rather than a stony crackdown. For example, someone who is borrowing a password from a friend or family member might request the verification code sent by Netflix.
“I don’t believe this is a full-blown attack,” said Michael D. Smith, professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “That could have been a warning shot through the bow of some pirates.”
However, he said, just reminding people that not being allowed to share passwords might convince some buyers to sign up instead of continuing to use the subscription paid for by their friends or relatives.
“Even the slightest signals that unacceptable piracy can change people’s behavior,” he said.
The test came as Netflix’s viewership rose sharply during the coronavirus pandemic.
The company said in January that it had an additional 8.5 million customers in the fourth quarter, for a total of 203.6 million subscribers by the end of 2020. The company has approximately 66 million customers in the United States and is expected to add a total of six million subscribers in the first three months of this year.
Netflix has previously hinted that they are looking for ways to stop sharing passwords. Gregory K. Peters, the company’s product manager, said during a call to review the company’s earnings in October 2019 that Netflix was “looking at the situation.”
“We’ll see again, consumer-friendly ways to drive that,” said Mr Peters, adding that the company “has no big plans to announce at this point.” .
Professor Smith said the company clearly loses a significant amount of revenue through people who use the service but don’t pay for it.
“Sharing your password is piracy and could cost Netflix a fortune if subscribers use their friends’ passwords, so that’s without a doubt a problem, ” I said. “The real challenge for them is to find out who shares the password and who is the legitimate account.”
In addition to business concerns, asking users to enter codes to be texted or emailed can also be beneficial, says Lorrie Faith Cranor, professor of computer science and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon. security benefits.
In theory, the hacker could change a customer’s Netflix account settings and start charging that person more, she said. They may also have access to information that could help them break into other accounts, especially if a customer uses the same password for multiple accounts. “It’s a very common thing,” she said.
But asking a user to enter a code sent via text or email – a process known as two-factor authentication used by many banking and social networking apps – makes it harder for attackers to break into.
“I’m not sure it’s a huge boon,” said Professor Cranor, “but there are some benefits.”