Netflix officially guilt-trips us for password sharing, lays out new rules

Netflix app logo on a phone
(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Netflix accounts in certain countries will now require you to set a "primary location" in order to access them.
  • You'll have to pay extra to add people who don't live in this location to your account, in addition to the higher fees for more simultaneous streams.
  • Netflix says you'll be able to access the account while you travel, though most likely only for a limited time. 
  • Starting February 8, users in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain will join this new system.

Netflix's official stance on password sharing has gone from "Love is sharing a password" in 2017 to the claim that a Netflix account is "intended for one household" and that password sharing is "impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films." 

All those Netflix one-season cancellations? It's basically our fault for not giving Netflix more money.

At least, that's what Chengyi Long, Netflix's Director of Product Innovation, implies in a press release (opens in new tab) on Wednesday, outlining the rollout of its new geo-locked accounts in four countries. Starting today, February 8, these Netflix users will be required to set a "primary location" in order to access their films, shows, and games. 

For those who share an account from multiple locations, they'll essentially have two options: pay a monthly fee to add a second location to that account or transfer the Netflix profile to a "new account, which they pay for," the press release explains rather snarkily. 

Netflix built a new transfer profile tool to relocate your "personalized recommendations, viewing history, My List, saved games and more" to a new account, so you don't have to start from scratch. 

Netflix shares its guidelines for account sharing based on the account type.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Otherwise, Netflix will charge CAD$7.99 a month per person in Canada, NZD$7.99 in New Zealand, €3.99 in Portugal, and €5.99 in Spain. So in Canada, you'd have to pay roughly $23.48 for a Standard shared account or $27.98 for a Premium shared account. And you'll only be able to pay for one extra member with a Standard account, while the Premium option allows for just two extra members.

What about those who watch Netflix during their commutes or while traveling? Long assures that "Members can still easily watch Netflix on their personal devices or log into a new TV, like at a hotel or holiday rental," but doesn't explain the process. 

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Rumors have suggested Netflix might let you temporarily relocate your primary location when staying somewhere remote, but only for a limited time. And it's unclear whether you can still stream Netflix on the mobile app if you're not connected to your primary wi-fi network.

This password-sharing crackdown will begin in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain after Netflix tested the feature extensively in Latin America. And no doubt, larger territories like the United States and India will be next.

Netflix is currently in the midst of some economic tumult, with its ad-supported tier failing to make much of an impact, Netflix Games not attracting much user interest, and its co-founder stepping down as CEO

Its executives are hoping that forcing people to pay for their own accounts will turn the tide, but Netflix's problems go far beyond shared accounts. And there is no guarantee that the millions of people who spent years freeloading on other Netflix accounts — often while paying for and sharing another streaming service — will happily create and pay for new accounts.

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.