But his house, wife and main Netflix address are all based thousands of miles away in Midland, Ga.
Andersen is one of many longtime Netflix customers upset about the company’s new crackdown on password sharing, which rolled out in the United States this week and will prevent him from streaming down the road. After years of ignoring and even encouraging password sharing, the streaming company is asking anyone who uses a Netflix log-in for more than 31 days in another location to get a separate account or pay $7.99 a month to add to the main account.
Affected Netflix users took to social media to complain about the new policy, some even threatening to quit or switch to competitors with more lenient sharing requirements, such as Disney Plus and Max.
“I’m not paying eight dollars anymore, not at all,” said Andersen, who plans to cancel his $19.99 a month premium plan. “I get paid a lot. I understand the price has to go up over time — that doesn’t bother me — but to say now I can’t use it for myself? That’s crazy.”
Will Netflix be affected by the backlash?
Netflix didn’t rush this plan and probably thought it through some public anger and loss of some subscribers. The company began testing the implementation in smaller markets last year and launched it in Canada this year. A small amount of churn is expected and likely to be temporary, analysts said.
“In every market there is initial anger,” said Rich Greenfield, media analyst at LightShed Partners. “Then they released a piece of content that people couldn’t live without, [and] After two months, their numbers had increased.
Popular shows and quality movies should be the focus of the company, Greenfield said. “The best way to get people to sign up for their own account or as an additional account is content they literally can’t live without.”
In an April survey, Wedbush Securities asked current and recent Netflix customers what they would do after the crackdown. About 40 percent said they had no intention of making any changes to their subscription, 30 percent said they would join or create a family or group plan, and 15 percent said they would cancel or leave Netflix.
“It’s like flat tires going online to voice their complaints. Most are piggy backers I guess, unhappy that they have to pay,” said Alicia Reese, a Wedbush equity research analyst.
Not all Netflix customers are upset about the crackdown. Some are happy for the company to go after “freeloaders,” especially if it means more revenue for their favorite shows or if it means their own monthly bills stop going up. Netflix says 100 million people worldwide stream using borrowed accounts.
“We subscribers are getting either higher rates or lower services than would otherwise be the case if the freeloaders coughed up the subscription fee,” said Diane Averill, of Pittsburgh, in an email. “And Netflix employees can get better wages if the company is more profitable, so more people could potentially be defrauded by fraudsters.”
Netflix declined to comment about the response from users.
“This is an important transition for us, and so we’re working hard to make sure we do it as smoothly and thoughtfully as we can,” Netflix co-CEO and director Gregory Peters said on a recent earnings call of the company. He said that in countries where it has launched the new policy, the company tends to see an initial number of cancellations followed by password borrowers signing up for their own accounts and members who paying for extra people.
Netflix said a letter in April to Canadian shareholders, which it says is a “reliable predictor for the US, our paid membership base is now larger than before the launch of paid shares and revenue growth has accelerated and is now growing faster than in the US”
What’s next for affected streamers?
Some people are in situations where paying more money doesn’t make sense. For example, paying subscribers who split their time between different locations, for work, because they have a vacation home or for family reasons.
But many people who received notices are exactly what Netflix is targeting: parents who share with college students, young adults who share accounts with their older parents and groups of friends who costs are divided among several subscriptions.
A few years ago, Ammy Woodbury and her friends logged into a premium Netflix account together. He said he understood the company felt its business model was no longer working, but the change forced the group to cancel.
“I think we’ll probably subscribe for a month or two a year to catch up on ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Wednesday’ and watch some movies. But then we shut it down again,” said Woodbury, 49, who lives in Santa Clara, Calif. “They made me check how much I value them, and the answer is definitely less than $10 a month, probably lower. more than $50 a year.”
When the new options first appeared in Canada in February, Sarah Taylor reluctantly agreed to pay the extra cost. He shared his account with his retired parents, so they could watch “Bridgerton” and British crime procedurals. But when Netflix later told her she needed to upgrade her basic account to qualify for adding members, Taylor called the company out for good.
A customer support representative told him that he can continue to share his account if he streams for a few minutes from his smartphone, drives 25 minutes to his parents’ house, streams again from his phone on their WiFi and finally logs they back to his account from their TV. He was told to do this every 14 days and only pay his original $9.99 a month. He decided not to cancel.
“They’re crazy,” Taylor said. “A lot of people are going to ditch Netflix. I know a lot personally that have.”
For Courtney Levin, it’s less about the money and more about Netflix breaking an unspoken agreement. Levin also pays into an account he shares with his elderly parents, but he plans to cancel.
“When they first moved from DVDs to streaming, they kind of backhandedly promoted sharing your passwords,” Levin said. “We all have multiple accounts, Prime, Max, Disney. It’s not like we’re not willing to pay for things we want, it’s that you’ve built your brand service that you can share with your family and now you’re changing it.”
There is no shortage of alternatives. But for anyone thinking about switching so they can continue to share, Wedbush’s Reese warns they could follow in Netflix’s footsteps in the future.
“Netflix, they’re going to be the first mover here, and I expect to see other streamers follow suit over time.”
What exactly are Netflix’s password sharing rules?
While Netflix has been talking about its password plans since last year, the notifications launched this week in the United States were effective immediately and caught some people off guard. Many were confused as to how the company would implement the plan and were surprised to find that it applied to them. Here’s what we know so far:
- Netflix says that an account can only be used by members of a physical household, who share an internet connection. Additional members logging in from another location can be added for $7.99 a month.
- It appears that the restrictions only apply to televisions and not mobile devices at the moment. Once you’ve successfully logged in on a smartphone or tablet, you should be able to stream anywhere.
- You can still travel without issue for up to a month. People will need to connect to the primary location once every 31 days to avoid being logged out of the account.
- If you move or plan to be away for more than 31 days, you can change the location of your household.
- It doesn’t matter what level you pay or your reasons for leaving the primary address. The company does not have any exceptions for more unusual cases such as deployed members of the military.
- Netflix mostly uses IP addresses to identify where people are coming from, but it also uses device IDs and account activity.
- This indicates which location is your home base, but you can manually set your household location from Netflix on a TV by going to Get Help → Manage Netflix Households.
- You can only add additional members to the more expensive standard and premium plans and the number of additional members is limited. (One extra to standard, two members to premium.)
- No penalty for sharing, no Netflix police going door to door. People streaming from secondary locations will only be logged out.
And here’s a guide to navigating the expensive landscape of streaming and digital entertainment.