After nearly a year of warnings and testing, Netflix has finally launched its password-sharing crackdown in the United States.
Anyone sharing their Netflix account login with family members or friends who don't live at the same address will be asked to pay an extra $7.99 a month for each additional person. The company started sending out emails Tuesday to people it determined are breaking the rules, and will continue to roll them out to primary account holders in the coming days. The people borrowing the login will get an update when they try to log in that tells them how to start their own account.
People who are using an account on the go will need to login from the primarily address once every 31 days to avoid being flagged.
There will be no penalty for primary account members who are caught sharing their credentials. The company will just stop the people they are sharing with from being able to stream. People who want to start their own accounts have the option to transfer their profile so they can pick up on whichever episode of "Selling Sunset" they were watching last.
Only people who pay for the $15.49 a month "Standard" or $19.99 a month "Premium" plan will have the option to pay for additional users. If they have an ad-supported $6.99 a month or $9.99 a month "Basic" plan, they will not have the option unless they upgrade.
Netflix has said that 100 million people around the world use its subscription streaming service without paying for their own accounts. It started testing this crackdown on password sharing last year in other countries but has long said it would eventually come to the U.S., where the company was founded in 1997.
Critics of the enforcement say it doesn't take into account nontraditional families and jobs or limited income. If a child goes off to college for the first time and lives in a dorm, they'll need to pay for an additional "extra member" profile. Same goes for anyone who is logging in primarily away from the main home address without regularly coming back, whether it's because they work on the road, are deployed in the military or are a child living primarily with a parent who has custody, but not the Netflix account.
While the company policies have always said accounts were meant to be shared by households, it publicly embraced the practice in the past. In 2017, the official Netflix account tweeted "Love is sharing a password." And at CES in 2016, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said the company "loved" that people share Netflix accounts and described it as "a positive thing, not a negative thing," according to CNET.
Streaming companies have been tweaking their businesses over the past year as they struggle with increasing competition and the reality that people can afford only so many monthly subscription fees. Many have raised prices, including Prime Video, Netflix and Apple TV Plus, but no other company has gone after account sharing in the same way.
In April, Netflix also announced it is discontinuing its DVD subscription service, which mailed physical discs to customers - an offering that has existed since the company was founded.