Netflix’s end to password-sharing has sparked a debate in the Ithaca College community regarding whether it is the best business practice and how the new rule will impact college students.
Back in 2017, Netflix tweeted, “Love is sharing a password.” However, in 2023, Netflix announced that it would put an end to password-sharing by preventing users who do not have the same Internet Protocol address, which helps identify devices that are connected to the internet.
According to The Streamable, every 31 days, secondary users will have to make sure they are connected to the same Wi-Fi as the primary user of the account when logging into Netflix.
However, Netflix will implement a new system that will charge users an additional fee for sharing their account with more than two people who do not live in the same household as the primary user.
Ithaca College junior David Klos, who currently shares an account with his parents who live in Maryland, said that many college students rely on account sharing because of the lack of disposable income that they have.
“Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing an account for something as long as that is fine with both parties,” Klos said. “I don’t have the opportunity to just go back home every 30 days or so, just to be like, ‘Oh, I guess I won’t have an account now.’”
Though Netflix has put a hold on ending password-sharing in the United States for now, countries like Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain are currently experiencing the rollout of the new rule. According to Nerdist, members in Canada will get charged $7.99 Canadian dollars ($5.93 USD) per person, members in New Zealand will get charged $7.99 New Zealand dollars ($4.99 USD), Portugal members will have to pay 3.99 Euros ($4.27 USD), while members in Spain will pay 5.99 Euros ($6.41 USD)
Since 2022, Netflix has struggled to maintain viewership. According to USAToday, Netflix lost a total of 970,000 subscribers from April to June 2022.
Peter Johanns, associate professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences and Studies, said that the competition among streaming companies like Peacock, Disney+ and Paramount+, has caused Netflix to enforce tighter restrictions in order to stay afloat.
“Netflix wants to maintain a viable business model in this ever-competing landscape and this is what they have to do,” Johanns said. “I think more of the issue is, [Netflix’s] non-exclusivity to content, where it used to be the primary place for audiences to go. Now again, places like Peacock, Disney+ and Paramount+ are starting to have the content that used to be on Netflix, and so the audience will go where the content is.”
According to Horowitz Research, 71% of people ages 18–24 watched Netflix on a weekly basis in 2022. In an article from CNBC, Netflix spokeswoman Kumiko Hidaka refused to comment on ways Netflix will support college students who regularly utilize account-sharing.
According to a survey from Statista, the percentage of people subscribed to Netflix in 2021 between the ages of 18–34 was 75%. The percentage also included people who lived in a household with someone who was subscribed to Netflix.
Junior Chess Cabrera, who is a documentary studies major, said that for her final project, her professor assigned the class to watch and analyze different documentaries, and then try to interview the creator of the documentary. Additionally, Cabrera said her professor recommended the class to use Netflix because of the wide selection of documentaries available.
Further, Cabrera said professors who assign students content to watch through Netflix, have to find ways to make the content more accessible for students who do not have access to certain streaming services.
“Now, [professors] do really have to go and take it and find a way to put it on Kaltura or one of the other ways that you can show students films, because we’re no longer going to be allowed to use Netflix,” Cabrera said.
Additionally, Cabrera said many longtime subscribers will unsubscribe from Netflix because of how intense the new restrictions are.
“Netflix is now starting to get greedy and people are losing their loyalty,” Cabrera said. “The whole tracking exactly where you are is really intense for just password sharing. I think it’s a business model that’s going to shoot them all the way under and then everyone’s going to be upset about it.”
Senior emerging media major Julius Wijono said that while his professors in his major have provided links to some of the movies and documentaries that are assigned for class, ending password-sharing will prevent many college students from watching Netflix in their downtime.
“I believe that the whole thing is just really ridiculous and just not convenient whatsoever for not just for college students, but for anyone really,” Wijono said. “I don’t know personally if I would still buy my own Netflix account, I mean, the primary one I use now … belongs to my dad. And although I don’t think he plans on moving homes or changing Wi-Fi, … it’s still a pain.”
Jack Powers, professor and chair of the Department of Media Arts, Sciences and Studies, said that the end to password-sharing is something that needs to be addressed in the Roy H. Park School of Communications because of a large number of students and faculty in the school that utilize Netflix.
“It’s been safe to assume students had access to Netflix, or they had a friend who had Netflix and they could borrow the password,” Powers said. “We cannot make that assumption anymore going forward. So we will have no choice. If it’s Netflix that we want students to access, [then] we’re going to have to help them. We’re going to have to provide that access to that. That’s the bottom line.”
Additionally, Powers said that while he predicts that Netflix will try to find a way to help college students, the Park School has to be prepared to accommodate students that cannot afford to pay for Netflix.
“I would imagine a scenario where Netflix is going to have some kind of a deal for colleges and universities for student access,” Powers said. “So, I would not be surprised if something like that comes out in the very near future. So we have to do something, because especially in the Park School, many faculty have students going to Netflix for content. We’re aware of that. And in an era of password sharing, that wasn’t a problem, but now it’s going to be a problem. If students can’t afford to pay, we’re gonna probably have to figure something out. And right now, we don’t know what that is.”
Devan Rosen, professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences and Studies, said that it is important for everyone including college students, to pay for the content because he said it does not go against the terms of the conditions, but disrespects the content creators’ effort and hard work.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a bummer for a lot of students if they can’t just use their parents’ account to watch free Netflix,” Rosen said. “And I understand that it costs money, but it’s still violating terms of agreement with an organization that needs subscriptions to pay its creators. With so many students at IC headed towards the content creation career path, we should be trying to support creators, not steal their art.”