The cost-of-living crisis is affecting us all and many people are cutting back on expensive luxuries like multiple streaming service subscriptions or sharing passwords with friends and families to minimize costs.
Needless to say, this is not to Netflix’s liking, and they have now just announced details of their much-trailed rule change on password-sharing along with how they plan to enforce these strict new rules.
What are Netflix’s new password-sharing rules?
The rules on password-sharing are now clear. You can share an account within a single household but not with people beyond.
The definition of household that Netflix seems to be adhering to is a very traditional one that singularly fails to take into account the realities of the modern world.
This problems with this approach are explained in detail but are not the focus of this article.
To enforce their new rules, Netflix will now require all devices using your account to be linked to your primary location.
To prove this, you will need to connect to the Wi-Fi at your primary address, open your Netflix account on either their website or your app, and watch something at least once every 31 days.
If devices fail to do this, Netflix will now prompt them to sign up for their own account and block their access to Netflix until they either do this or connect to the Wi-Fi at the primary address again.
If anyone finds that a device has been blocked incorrectly, they will now have to go through all the hassle of contacting Netflix and explaining the situation to get the device unblocked.
How does Netflix know if you are at your primary address?
In order to determine the details of your primary address, Netflix will use your IP Address along with other information such as Device IDs and account activity.
Trusted devices will have to connect to your primary address every 31 days or they will no longer be able to access your Netflix account.
The number of devices that are permitted to be used on a single account will, as before, depend on the price tier you have signed up to, with numbers ranging from one to four depending on how much you are willing to cough up every month to Netflix.
If you think that this sounds like a recipe for total chaos, you are certainly not alone. The new measures seem to fail to take into account the fact that people watch Netflix on the go rather than just sat on their sofas at home.
To say that Netflix’s new and seemingly ill-thought-through rules have been received poorly by customers is an understatement. So, the question many are asking is what can you do about them?
How users may react moving forward
There are four feasible options as far as we can see.
The first, and worst, is that you capitulate, and if you have family members living elsewhere or have to travel, or have children at university, or live in one of the million and one other ways that Netflix’s new rules singularly fail to take account of, you can sign up for more accounts and hand Netflix more of your money.
We don’t anticipate too many people taking up option one.
Secondly, you can junk Netflix altogether.
There are plenty of other high-quality streaming services out there, like Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video that aren’t making life as difficult as possible for their customers.
Or there is no lack of good content available for free in most countries too. Let’s face it, there is a lot of rubbish on Netflix.
Option three is the one we expect a growing number of people to turn to and that is torrenting.
As one Twitter user said, when streaming platforms like Netflix are affordable and easy to use, people tend not to bother torrenting movies and TV shows because they aren’t worth the effort.
But, when streaming platforms become complicated and expensive, people will go back to torrenting. After all, everything Netflix has to offer, and much more is available to torrent (although highly illegal) if people are so inclined.
The fourth and final option is to try a VPN with a static IP Address.
These services cost a bit more than a standard VPN subscription, but unlike most VPNs which connect you to a different and shared IP Address each time you connect, static IP Address will connect you to a single IP Address each time you hook up.
If that IP Address is linked to your Netflix account as your primary residence, you should be able to use your account from anywhere when connected to that IP Address.
However, Netflix is not keen on VPNs, so there is always the risk that they might spot you are using one and try to block that IP Address. Then you will face the same problems as everyone else is having to contend with.
There are options then. But you might also want to just wait and ride out the storm. These new rules look like a car crash waiting to happen, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Netflix shelving them sooner rather than later.
Either that or losing as many customers as they hope to gain.