Netflix's password crackdown continues to confound critics amid sign-up surge

A woman watches Netflix on her TV with a remote in one hand and popcorn in the other
Netflix subscriptions are still on the rise months after its password crackdown began. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Netflix's password crackdown plan continues to defy expectations, with new users still signing up to the service in their millions.

Four months after Netflix confirmed it would begin clamping down on account sharing between households (unless you pay extra for the privilege), the streaming giant continues to reap the benefits of its controversial plan on a monthly basis.

According to data compiled by analytics firm Antenna (as reported by Broadband TV News), the world's best streaming service has added over 7.5 million users to its subscriber base since May. It was during this month that Netflix officially rolled out its password crackdown scheme in multiple countries, including the US, UK, and Australia. Since then, Netflix has confounded critics with just how many new users it's convinced to sign up to its platform. 

The big driver behind Netflix's sign-up surge? Its ad-supported plan, which Antenna claims 23% of new users opted for. That's unsurprising, given the ad-based tier (at just $6.99 / £4.99 / AU$6.99 per month) is the cheapest option Netflix offers. Sure, you have to sit through a certain number of ads per episode of TV. But, in the midst of a global cost-of-living crisis, the ad-supported tier is a money-saving subscription that will appeal to those on a budget.

An image of a home with five devices showing the Netflix logo on them

Netflix only allows account sharing between households if you stump up more cash per month. (Image credit: Netflix)

There are signs, though, of a slow down in the number of people signing up to Netflix. 

In June, Netflix added almost 3.5 million users to its fanbase; a figure that represented a massive 128.9% increase on its May total. However, in July, the streamer only saw 2.6 million people sign up to the service – a 25.7% reduction on June's number. It should be noted that Antenna's data only accounts for US-based sign-ups. That was the case in June, too, when we first reported that Netflix's password crackdown was actually working

However, without additional data from other nations, such as the UK, Australia, and Canada, we can't fully determine if Netflix's password crackdown has been a global success. 

Upon the scheme's initial rollout, Netflix subscribers left the service in their droves in protest over the company's clampdown on account sharing. That ensured the crackdown plan got off to a terrible start in late May. Clearly, though, Netflix has bounced back – in the US, at least – based on Antenna's latest figures.

A subscription spike success – and other streamers could follow suit

A promotional image for Disney Plus on a mobile phone, which shows the logos of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars

Disney Plus and Hulu might join Netflix in cracking down on password and account sharing. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ahead of Netflix's password crackdown, all eyes were on the streaming giant to see if its new project would be successful. Evidently, it has been – and that's set tongues wagging among other leading streamers.

You see, if Netflix has made a scheme of this nature work, it's sure to be a success elsewhere. In late July, we suggested that we needed to start worrying about Max, Prime Video, and Disney Plus all following suit with similar plans of action. And it hasn't taken long for those titans of the entertainment industry to follow in Netflix's footsteps.

In June, we reported that Prime Video had launched a cheaper, ad-supported plan in India. That was one of the first signs from Netflix that suggested it was looking for new ways to make money, which eventually led the streaming company to clamp down on account sharing. If Amazon's streaming division follows a similar path, it might not be long before Prime Video introduces its own password crackdown plan.

Even if Amazon follows Netflix's lead, it won't be the next entertainment conglomerate to do so. In early August, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed Disney Plus would join Netflix on the password crackdown train. Sister streamer Hulu could be impacted as well but, right now, it's unclear when Disney Plus and its streaming sibling may be affected by such a scheme.

Nobody knows if other prominent streaming platforms will also put a stop to account sharing, but one thing is clear: Netflix has shifted the landscape with its password crackdown program and reaped the rewards of doing so. It's only a matter of time, then, before some of its biggest rivals do likewise.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across. Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.