Netflix knows you're sharing your account and may start charging you

Women watching Netflix on a laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock / wutzkohphoto)

You know how all your friends and your away-from-home college students are currently using your Netflix credentials? Netflix knows it, too, and is testing a new way of allowing account sharing, but for an additional fee.

The streaming giant is currently testing a pair of new features that, while enabling memberships outside the main account household, will also add a little surcharge.

The "Add an Extra Member" feature allows those on Standard and Premium plans to add "sub accounts" for up to two people living at a different address (think friends, distant relatives, or your student studying at Harvard). For an additional $2.99, these sub members will get their own ID and passwords, profiles, and personalized recommendations. 

For now, this test is contained to Chile (2,380 CLP), Costa Rica ($2.99), and Peru (7.9 PEN). 

The second feature allows you to transfer your profile to one of these new Extra Member accounts or to a new account. In either case, the viewing history, list, and recommendations remain the same.

All about the money

Netflix isn't being coy about why the change is necessary. Enough people have been sharing accounts between households that, as they put it in a blog post on the test, it's "...impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films for our members."

Yes, it boils down to money.

There's no guarantee that Netflix will roll out these changes globally. The company notes in the blog post that it's "working to understand the utility of these two features for members in these three countries before making changes anywhere else in the world."

Still, such a change could have huge implications for families who've been happily sharing one account across multiple homes. Sure, depending on the account level, only two-to-four of you can stream Netflix at once, and that does lead to a text or two requesting a friend get off Netflix so you can stream Bridgerton, but there are a lot of people watching your Netflix without paying for it. According to a 2019 study, 14% of all U.S. Netflix users are watching Netflix without paying for it.

This small change could put a swift end to all that and quickly raise paying Netflix subscription fees almost $3 a month, a none-too-welcome change considering Netflix fees just jumped a buck or two.

Lance Ulanoff
US Editor in Chief

A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.