It's a year of big questions and changes for Netflix, but we might have a cool, cool summer if the streaming giant holds off on expanding its password-sharing surcharge test.
This week, when asked about the possibility of expanding the password-sharing tests into the US this summer, a Netflix spokesperson told TechRadar in an email exchange that "We are working to understand the utility of these two features for members in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru, before making changes anywhere else in the world. We don't have anything else to share at this time."
Right. No new information there but also no indication that the process has moved forward beyond rather small tests in Peru, Costa Rica, and Chile.
On the other hand, these scant comments don't mean you're free and clear here in the States and elsewhere to extend your Netflix password to friends, family, and that guy at work who keeps asking for it.
Still, "working to understand" is an indication that Netflix's efforts to understand the impact of its new surcharge are far from done and that, at least for the next few months (summer starts in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21 and ends on September 22), you don't have to hunt down everyone who is already using your Netflix account credentials and tell them to "knock it off!"
The clock, though, is ticking. Netflix really has no choice but to expand this program. According to Netflix, 100 million households currently share their passwords outside the home.
No news is good news
With Netflix's subscriber troubles far from over – the company reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers and expects to lose as many as 2 million by end of the year – the account-sharing surcharge is very likely to hit in the US and elsewhere by the end of this year. That is, unless Netflix discovers in its tests that such a small surcharge (it's equivalent to just a few dollars in the current test markets) further depresses subscription numbers and accelerates the total subscriber drop-off.
Netflix's other considered service changes, by the way, may also take a summer vacation. When TechRadar asked about the possibility of the ad-supported Netflix tier arriving this summer, the Netflix representative told us, "It’s still early days and we don’t have a timeline to share."
Does that mean it probably won't arrive this summer?
That timing – or lack thereof – makes sense. It's hard to introduce a new, possibly much cheaper Netflix option – with ad breaks – when most people in the US are heading back outside, going on vacation, seeing movies in theaters, and generally doing a little less Netflix streaming in their homes.
It might also make sense to queue up such a new ad-supported service for the fall when Netflix may have a new lineup of shows, movies, and the start of a lot of fresh holiday fare.
In the meantime, Netflix hopes to feast on the positive buzz and increased viewership sparked by Stranger Things 4, which dropped on Friday. There are seven episodes to watch now and then the streamer will bring the series back for a massive two-parter (that may be more than 3 hours long) in July. All of that should keep current Netflix subscribers on the hook through most of the summer.
Netflix can make its big moves after that.