Netflix has kicked off its password-sharing crackdown, rolling out new fees in four countries -- Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain -- that charge accounts for sharing their membership outside one household.
And the price is higher than it was in the initial tests.
The company, the world's biggest subscription streaming service of its kind, has been promising investors for months that it would roll out the initiative widely. But it comes after years of being lax about password sharing, with Netflix once tweeting "love is sharing a password" and founder Reed Hastings explaining in 2016 that he loves when people share Netflix.
But last year Netflix started testing ways to "monetize account sharing" after recording its deepest subscriber losses in a decade. With more than 230 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix believes more than 100 million accounts are sharing.
Wednesday, Netflix said it had launched "extra member" subaccount fees in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain, effective the same day. Modeled on a scheme Netflix tested in a few Latin American countries since last year, the charges ask subscribers whose membership is being used beyond one "primary location" to pay extra for one or two subaccounts. (Click here for more details on Netflix's account-sharing policies.)
The extra-member charge is C$8 a month in Canada, NZ$8 in New Zealand, 4 euros in Portugal, and 6 euros in Spain. Netflix didn't specify a timeline for when other countries, like the US, would launch the fees.
However, this is meaningfully more expensive than the fee prices in the Latin American countries where account-sharing was already in force.
In Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, where these fees were first tested, the average charge for an extra member subaccount was priced at roughly 25% the cost of a Standard plan in each country, on average. But in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain -- the first wave of countries in Netflix's official launch of account sharing -- the prices for extra members are meaningfully higher, sometimes twice as much as measured by percentage of the local Standard account price.
On average, Netflix set the fee for extra members in the latest countries at 43% the price of a Standard plan versus 25% in the tests.
And in Canada, which is the market most closely linked to the US, the charges are highest: Each extra member is nearly half the cost of a Standard plan there.
The move comes as intensifying competition has started to crimp Netflix's once-unflagging growth. In the past three and a half years, nearly all of Hollywood's major media companies have been pouring billions of dollars into their own streaming operations. These so-called streaming wars brought about a wave of new services, including Disney Plus, HBO Max, Peacock, Paramount Plus and Apple TV Plus. This flood of streaming options has complicated how many services you must use (and, often, pay for) to watch your favorite shows and movies online.
The password crackdown isn't Netflix's only about-face lately. It has also launched cheaper subscriptions supported by advertising, after it had dismissed the concept of commercials on Netflix for years.