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The Netflix password-sharing data is pretty staggering

Updated Jan 20th, 2023 1:40AM EST
Elite on Netflix
Image: JorgeEduardo/Adobe

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Netflix is in the rare position of floundering a bit at the moment, financially speaking. And some of you freeloaders, who mooch the password to other peoples’ Netflix accounts, are partly to blame.

The issue here is that Netflix might have finally hit a ceiling on the rocketship of a growth trajectory it’s been on for years. After more than a decade, the streamer is finally reporting a quarterly subscriber loss for the first time. And next quarter, it’s forecasting the subscriber exodus to be even bigger. All of which is why Netflix is now telegraphing, to whoever needs to hear this, that it’s ready to tighten the screws on cheats.

What’s more: The numbers on this are much bigger than you might even realize.

How many people share Netflix accounts?

Netflix said in its latest quarterly shareholder letter this week that on top of its 222 million paid subscriber base, “we estimate that Netflix is being shared with over 100m additional households.” Including over 30 million in Netflix’s US-Canada market.

That’s a staggering number of people who’ve been allowed to get away with streaming Stranger Things and Bridgerton for free, by using someone else’s Netflix account, all this time. Meanwhile, data from a new study (via Time2Play) breaks down the numbers here even more.

For example:

  • The average subscriber who shares their password does so with 2.3 people living outside their household.
  • 79% of those using someone else’s password say they won’t get their own account if Netflix ends password sharing.
  • 28.8% of Netflix watchers also report using illegal sources for some of their viewing.

What happens now?

Social media users, meanwhile, are having a field day creating memes and viral posts lampooning Netflix. Specifically, the posts suggest that the password-sharing crackdown ignores even bigger issues.

From Netflix’s perspective, the company believes it’s only fair to ask subscribers “to pay a bit more to share the service outside their homes,” Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer, said in a video interview with JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth.

As an example, Peters mentioned a hypothetical subscriber sharing their Netflix account with a sibling in another state. The idea is to ask that person to pay a little more to do so. “We are trying to find a balanced approach here, a consumer-centric approach,” he said.

The important thing to know here is that Netflix very much has an eye toward figuring out how to go after freeloaders in a way that doesn’t exacerbate subscriber losses. But which also gets people in markets like the US to pay what they owe.

“My belief is that we’re going to go through a year or so of iterating, and then deploying, all of that so that we get that solution globally launched, including markets like the United States,” Peters said.

More Netflix coverage: For more Netflix news, check out our coverage of the latest new Netflix movies and series to watch.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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