“Hey, I know it’s been a long time since we’ve talked, but I wanted to ask you something…could you let me have your Netflix password?”. Time and time again, phrases like this have filled the inboxes of Netflix subscribers over the past few years. Friends from the past, ex-boyfriends or very distant relatives approached subscribers like bears to honey. The goal: to be able to enjoy the platform for free.
With Netflix’s new policy, which no longer allows sharing passwords between users in order to gain profitability, an era has come to an end. An era of hard-faced people who wanted to take advantage of subscribers, yes, but also a few years that we will remember for the surrealism of some of the relationships we have created as subscribers to the platform.
Goodbye to shared Netflix accounts
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we had to stay cooped up at home for months, Netflix subscriptions went through the roof. The reason was clear: with so much free time and nothing to do, having a catalog of series and movies was what saved many people from despair.
However, after the 2020 subscription binge, 2021 was a weaker year for Netflix, and in 2022 it added “just” 9 million new accounts, reaching 231 across the globe. But the platform is not profitable enough, according to the company itself, as it should be. And this is causing them to add the new account sharing policy.
According to Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, this is because the platforms were in a race to add as many subscribers as possible. But now that it has been driven to a more continuous curve, their focus is different: to get the maximum return from the subscribers they already have.
The password policy will be integrated worldwide, although it has started in Spain, Portugal, New Zealand and Latin American countries. Many are taking the opportunity to unsubscribe, using the hashtag in networks #AdiósNetflix. In addition, the fact that we are coming from a recess in the quality of its fictions and cancellations of series so closely followed has caused many to take this decision as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
But account sharing was not only a way to take advantage of paying less, it has also triggered dozens of stories around the platform that will now be left in the air. Stories of all kinds, both sour and sweet, reflecting an era that will be left in the past.
A new way to watch Netflix
As a Netflix subscriber, you were immersed in a shared experience. From your subscription you could see how your parents had binge-watched a Turkish series. Or how your friend, who once asked for your password and never left your account, had watched the latest Adam Sandler. It was a shared experience that created a pattern of conversation, similar to the British program Gogglebox, in which viewers are recorded in their living rooms while watching TV.
The pinnacle of this phenomenon has been in relationships. You could block your ex from Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp to never see him/her again. But if he or she had your password, you could see how he or she had watched The Notebook for Valentine’s Day. Without you. And a tear would fall on the couch as you wonder why he/she still has your password… Sorry, too specific.
Be that as it may, the relationship also worked the other way around. There are many friends that have arisen from sharing the password of the same Netflix account. Friends of whom you soon know more than you thought, because you know perfectly their movie tastes and their favorite series.
With the platform’s new policy, it will not only put an end to freeloaders and people who want to save money, but also to the shared experience of using (and not just watching) Netflix. Of making the platform have life beyond your screen.
As with cable TV, where neighbors helped each other to access as much audiovisual content as possible, with Netflix, relationships based on account sharing emerged. This era is ending to give way to a much colder and duller one in the use of the streaming service. But we will always be able to look back and remember this era with nostalgia.