Frowning Netflix profile photo in jail.
The announcement came at a time when Netflix was already losing subscribers. Only time will tell if the move will benefit Netflix or leave it worse-off than before. Image: Kai Holub/Fulcrum.
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New one-household rule leaves many students at-risk of losing Netflix access

It’s no secret that people share streaming accounts. In a world where you have to choose between Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crave, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV, Paramount+, Discovery+, and others, no one can keep track. Where Netflix once had a monopoly over the industry and a Netflix account actually did give users access to all the shows they wanted, that isn’t the case today.

A few years ago, my parents watched the entire Game of Thrones series during a one-month free trial to avoid paying for a continuous Crave with HBO Max subscription, when they only wanted to watch one show.

Recently, and very controversially, Netflix announced that they would start cracking down on account sharing. In the announcement, posted to their website on Feb. 8, 2023, Netflix outlined how the process would work — and who would be affected.

“Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts — impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films,” the website claims (although, the quality of TV and films Netflix is investing in is a completely different conversation).

Following the announcement, Netflix received backlash, presumably from the people who would be affected by the change. The new rules are problematic for anyone who doesn’t live in a single household family. Since the announcement, news outlets have published articles pointing out the people Netflix isn’t considering, such as split families.

One hard-hit group was students. I’m guilty of leeching off my parents’ streaming accounts, and I know I’m not alone. So far, my Netflix access has been spared, but I’m anxiously awaiting the day where I’m banned from using my Mississauga family’s Netflix in Ottawa.

Some students I asked weren’t upset by the change. 

On the other hand, some students expressed disappointment at the once-innovative company for the new business model.

“I just think that’s ridiculous,” said one disappointed student about the one-household restriction. “It sucks, just because I don’t live at home anymore I have to pay for my own subscription.”

“What’s the point of Netflix now? We’re back in the cable era,” claimed another when she heard some people would be watching Netflix with ads. It’s true, with the number of streaming platforms available today, ads were the only thing holding the line between cable and streaming.

Amidst changing the rules on account sharing, Netflix is also quietly upping its prices (again). In Canada, a “basic” plan (without ads), will run you $9.99 a month, while a “premium” account could cost up to $36.97 with the cost of extra account members. 

A “standard” plan, which lets you watch on two screens, now costs $16.50, double what it was ten years ago when the plan cost $7.99. (In case you’re wondering, and in order to keep up with inflation, Netflix would’ve only needed to raise the price to roughly $10.50 today.)

It might not be 100 per cent Netflix’s fault. Because of increased competition, Netflix and other streaming companies have had to start producing their content in-house, which considerably raises costs.

The price increase coupled with the anticipated new accounts that will need to be made should cover Netflix’s high overhead costs. That is, if the company doesn’t keep losing subscribers at the same rate it was in 2022.

In 2017, Netflix tweeted, “Love is sharing a password.” I guess times have changed.