Netflix's password sharing crackdown reached the UK this summer, but one group of subscribers have been exempt: Sky, BT, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media customers who get Netflix as part of their subscription bundle. However, that appears to be changing, and it's all rather complicated.
As Cordbusters reports, some Sky subscribers have finally started getting the dreaded notification on their TVs about Netflix's clampdown on account sharing. Users have noticed that Sky has begun to ask them to "confirm this TV is in your Netflix household", and the British broadcaster has taken to X (formerly Twitter) to help customers with the perplexing issue.
💡 We've seen that some customers are seeing messaging about Netflix Households for the first time. For our support on how to set up / update this, check out our guide: 👉 https://t.co/EmeThbwMzo pic.twitter.com/gFEqepNaieNovember 18, 2023
As the above X post reveals, Sky users have been hit by Netfli'sx password sharing crackdown now, too. In its online help article, the TV provider explains customers will "only be able to share your Netflix account in one household (location/address)", meaning those living elsewhere can no longer access the world's best streaming service.
But wait, there's more. When Netflix introduced its account sharing clampdown, the streaming giant revealed current users could add "extra members" – essentially, anyone not living at the billed customer's address – to their Netflix account for an additional fee.
Unfortunately, Sky users can't take advantage of this option. Per the above article, Sky has confirmed this feature "isn't available" so, if you want to share your Netflix with family or friends, tough luck. The only way to get extra members is via a separate Netflix subscription, which is sure to confuse and frustrate Sky's userbase.
To make matters more complex, primary Sky account holders can still watch Netflix on their phones, tablets, and laptops outside of their household. The caveat here is that users will need to connect their device(s) to their homes' internet every 30 days. So, what's to stop someone using another household's Netflix account in their home, as long as they visit the primary account holder's place of residence before said person hits the 30-day limit? It's all very confusing, if you ask me.
A strange decision, but Netflix won't care
As Cordbusters also revealed, it's a similar story for the Netflix bundles with other subscription services. BT, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media customers have the same issues, with account holders on these platforms unable to add extra members to their Netflix profiles, either.
This isn't exactly ideal because it means these these services are now offering a poorer service than before. Even worse, there's no way to change it without setting up a separate Netflix subscription, meaning Sky users would have to pay more for the privilege of streaming the best Netflix shows and best Netflix movies.
If I'd just signed up for an 18-month Sky contract and expected to be able to use my bundled Netflix anywhere, I'd be pretty unhappy about this. It's an important thing to bear in mind, then, if you're signing up for any kind of service bundle that includes third party services, especially when the cost of living crisis continues to loom large over our heads.
Still, Netflix isn't likely to care about Sky customers' woes. In May – when the streamer first introduced its account sharing scheme – Netflix's global password crackdown was off to a terrible start, with users cancelling their subscription in protest over the new plan. However, in the six months since, Netflix's password crackdown proved to be effective, with millions signing up for their own accounts – especially on Netflix's cheapest, ad-supported tier – and swelling the company's userbase.
Netflix isn't the only streaming behemoth aiming to make more money through similar schemes. In August, Disney announced plans to join Netflix on the password crackdown train, with the company's main streamer – Disney Plus – expected to introduce one soon. Disney Plus' account sharing clampdown might happen sooner than expected, too, with the first murmurings of its rollout seemingly taking place in Canada earlier in November.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.
- Tom PowerSenior Entertainment Reporter