Half of Netflix Subscribers Share Passwords With People Outside Their Home, According To Survey

Netflix subscribers are in for some big changes soon.
Netflix subscribers are in for some big changes soon. / diego_cervo/iStock via Getty Images

Like jaywalking and wearing white after Labor Day, sharing Netflix passwords with people outside your household has become a socially acceptable way to break the rules. For years, users have gotten away with mooching off someone else's login information to stream content for free—even if they haven't spoken to the account holder since the last season of Stranger Things dropped. Netflix recently rolled out a new feature that suggests their relaxed approach to password-sharing may soon come to an end. When it does, a huge swath of their viewer base will be affected. According to time2play, 44.4 percent of Netflix users rely on the account of someone outside their household to access the service.

The site surveyed 1523 Americans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to get a better idea of the country's streaming habits. They found that nearly half of all active Netflix users in March of 2022 depended on the generosity of others to access the site. Of the paying subscribers, 50 percent admitted to sharing their login info with people they didn't live with (which technically violates the company's terms of use). These subscribers share their accounts with 2.3 people on average.

After giving so many non-subscribers a taste of their content, Netflix has come up with a plan to make them pay—or at least make someone else pay for them. In March, the service began testing a pop-up in certain markets that asks viewers to confirm they live with the owner of the account. This can be deferred by selecting the "verify later" option, but that may not be the case for much longer. In March, Netflix announced plans to charge subscribers an additional $2.99 to allow outside users to access their accounts. They will test the new policy in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru before deciding to launch it elsewhere.

By introducing the new fee, Netflix aims to generate profits off password sharers without ostracizing them completely. That's a delicate balance to strike, as according to time2play's survey, 79 percent of non-paying users say they wouldn't sign up for their own account if Netflix cracked down on them. Whether they're willing to pay the true account holder $3 a month for the privilege of their password remains to be seen—especially if they haven't talked to that person since they shared a dorm in college.