Who’s watching? What Netflix’s password crackdown means for streaming

By Maddy Birtles, Senior Account Executive

Since Netflix announced it was cracking down on password sharing between those who don’t live in the same household this week, many people (bill payers not included) are feeling saddened at the prospect of no longer being able to latch on to their best friend’s cousin’s account. But it might not actually be that bad…

Streaming has no doubt been booming during the pandemic. As the world entered lockdown and the bingeing began, Netflix saw six months of record-breaking growth in the first half of 2020. During which it added 26 million new subscribers, bringing the total paid subscriber count over 200 million by the end of the year. In the UK alone, the number of subscribers to Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ hit 32 million.

With streaming services’ profits soaring and viewing numbers higher than ever (shout out to Bridgerton), why the crackdown?

While ideal for the passenger, the ability to share streaming accounts can have security implications for the account holder. To give them more authorisation over who is using their account, Netflix is trialling a form of two-factor authentication that will prompt users to enter a texted or emailed code sent to the account holder. Given the considerable rise in cybercrime over this year, and the fact that 73% of people reportedly duplicate their personal and work passwords, I think we could all do with a bit of extra protection!

The news of the crackdown also follows a recent study by Opsec which revealed that video piracy was becoming more common in lockdown, suggesting that the extra security measures could be a way of tackling the rise in the amount of illegal content being consumed. The survey also found a quarter of consumers watch pirated content daily; 22% watch it several times a week, and 19% on a weekly basis.

Lastly, let’s not forget about the perks of personalisation that would benefit from the decision to restrict password sharing. The fewer randomers using one account from various locations to watch everything from Emily in Paris to The Ted Bundy Tapes, the more AI magic streaming services can work to deliver specially selected content.

Although, the final decision is still yet to made on whether Netflix will roll out the new trial across its network, the events over the last year could see streaming services take tighter control over password sharing. And it could actually be more beneficial for streamers in the long run.