It's a time-honored tradition shared by college kids and post-grads the country over: If you know a parent, friend, friend's parent, or cool dude named Steve who has a Netflix account, you're going to hit him or her up for a password. Those 176 episodes of the West Wing aren't going to watch themselves this May, and you sure as shit aren't going to drop the $7.99 necessary to create your own account.
Netflix—and, I'd be remiss to not include HBOGo in this—has been admirably cool in letting freeloaders get away with hopping on the accounts of family and friends. Other than mandating that only two people can stream from an account at one time, the company has not policed sharing at all.
Now, it possibly will. This is what happens when 10 MILLION people bootleg your streaming service without paying. Seriously: There are 10 million of us free-loading assholes. (I feel better about myself?)
Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings may now be able to squeeze more profit from his 33.3 million customers by tightening up those policies or boosting prices. As many as 10 million people are watching the online video service without paying, according to Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst in Los Angeles.
Netflix’s options include limiting the number of people or computers that could share one account or charging extra, for example, to let a college student in another town use his parents’ account. The company today has no restrictions on the number of PCs, tablets or phones that can use one account or the number of people who can sign in, though it limits each account to playing two video streams simultaneously.
“It’s time to change,” Pachter said in an interview. “They can say they’re cracking down on piracy. They can appeal to fairness. It’s great if the parent has a subscription and the kid watches it in the college dorm.”
Under current policy, Netflix lets people stream to two different devices at the same time using one subscription, said Joris Evers, a spokesman. That allows family members or friends to share a single account and watch different programs. He declined to comment on future plans.
If Netflix goes through with stricter measures, you can't really blame the company. The current hands-off policy has been an incredibly rare example of corporate informality, and you can't say you've never had the "How the hell is this allowed?" conversation while sharing a password. I'm going to miss trying to remember my mom's email address and password every time I want to watch a new episode of Always Sunny, but everyone saw this coming. The Netflix Reckoning is here. Time to start
Torrenting paying for entertainment.