What does Netflix’s anti-password sharing crackdown mean for college students?

By Lucy Jolliff

Elm Staff Writer

According to CNET, streaming giant Netflix rolled out its new, stringent anti-password sharing measures on Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain following trials throughout South America. While it is still unknown when the rollout will come to the United States, it is likely to happen before the end of March, according to Forbes.

The rules first sparked controversy in late January, when Netflix announced in a shareholder letter that they will restrict multiple uses of an account outside of a household in an effort to push their paid sharing plan.

Following the backlash they received after the announcement, the company deleted the specifications of the new system from their website.

While some took this as a victory, an official statement from Netflix claims that they deleted the information as the specifications were listed as applicable to the United States prematurely. However, the implementation in other countries — which includes a $7.50 fee for each additional, out-of-household member — allow for us to make some educated guesses regarding what the rollout will look like in the United States.

One of the most controversial aspects of the rollout is the stipulation that users have to log in to their home Wi-Fi at least once every 31 days to qualify as belonging to that household.

The announcement caused outrage, with everyone from musician FINNEAS to actor Justice Smith, who starred as Ezekiel Figuero in Netflix’s “The Get Down,” took to social media to share how the policy is not conducive to their lifestyle.

“If I were to get another job with Netflix and I had to shoot for two to four months, I would not be able to use my Netflix account even though I was working for them,” Smith said earlier this month on Twitter.

Aside from traveling celebrities, this rule would impact college students, who are unable to easily travel back home once a month.

Netflix has yet to reveal the exact metrics the new system will use to identify if people live together, but they claim that watching Netflix while traveling, or logging into the app on a TV at a hotel or holiday rental will be “easy,” according to their website.

There was no mention of college students, military families and personnel, multi-household families, or people in long-distance relationships, who would all struggle under the “every 31 days” plan.

If you share an account with a fellow student at your college, setting the college address as your “home” for Netflix purposes should be easy, and you likely will not have any issues. Likewise, students who go home every weekend will just need to make sure they log into Netflix while they are home.

However, this is a little less convenient for folks watching on their TVs or Xboxes in their dorms, as the system is set to be device-based — in other words, you are going to be lugging your TV back and forth until you’ve finally finished “How to Get Away With Murder.”

According to CNET, Netflix is giving people who currently share an account outside their household two options.

The first is to start paying for your own account, and use their new “profile transfer” feature so your list and watch history, as well as other data, will be seamlessly moved to a new account.

The second is to upgrade your current Netflix plan (if you are on Standard or Premium, sorry Basic and Basic with Ads subscribers) to “Buy an Extra Member” for up to two people outside the household. The fee for this new tier is different for every country, so the cost in the United States is not possible to predict, but the fees in other countries are equivalent to about $6 USD. For context, Netflix’s cheapest tier, Basic with Ads, is $6.99 in the US, Basic is $9.99, and Standard is $15.49.

This is one of the biggest changes to the plan that Netflix has been trialing in Peru, Costa Rica, and Chile, where the “extra person” fee was only roughly a quarter of a regular Netflix plan. As your subscription plan can be changed at any time, this is likely the option that Netflix is expecting college students to go for.

Instead of anyone living away from home becoming a new subscriber, Netflix will temporarily cost more for the family. Then, the plan can go back to normal when students move back in with their parents after graduation.

Photo caption: Despite rising prices, as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2022, Netflix has 231 million paid subscribers worldwide.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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