On Jan. 31, Netflix inadvertently announced plans to reduce password sharing among users. Though they soon backtracked these claims, outrage had already exploded across the internet.
The new plans include a requirement for subscribers to log into their Netflix account on their home network every 31 days to continue accessing content. For us college students, this would necessitate us going home every month to keep our Netflix streaming privileges. Along with this, the guidelines practically nullify using Virtual Private Networks to access content from other countries.
Netflix walked back the new guidelines a few days later, but they’ve been testing these password-sharing rules in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru. The writing is on the wall for those of us who share our Netflix subscription with others. This is just another horrible business decision that Netflix has made in the last few years.
Years ago, Netflix formed the new wave of content streaming, putting companies like Blockbuster out of business. Now, it’s a shell of its former self. Once, nearly any show or movie you could wish for could be found on the site. Today, it’s impossible to find anything you want to watch. That’s because Netflix’s original content now makes up over 50% of the site’s catalog.
Dozens of niche streaming services have taken over what was once Netflix’s bread and butter. It’s understandable that the company has to fall back on their own content as other media giants create their own services. But Netflix doesn’t even treat their own content well.
Netflix canceled around 20 shows in 2022, most of which ended after just one season. If a show doesn’t result in huge profits, it’s cut. That’s a shame, because a lot of art is being wasted on the cutting-room floor.
Take the animated sit-com “Inside Job.” The show was initially renewed for a second season before it was unceremoniously dropped by Netflix. The show is just one of many victims of Netflix’s practices.
It’s especially sad because many of these shows are never given a chance to grow. We all know a show we like that doesn’t get “really good” until the second or third season. These shows continued because the channel believed in their possibility. But Netflix refuses to grant the same levity that has created so many great pieces of media.
Obviously, Netflix is a business. They can only fund shows that make them money. But they are also a business that sells art, and if they continue throwing art that people love down the drain, their subscribers will stop wanting to shell out money to them.
Netflix’s subscriber growth slowed in 2022, only going up again once they implemented their ad-supported tier. Though the site still boasts over 230 million subscribers, it’s clear that their exponential returns can’t last forever.
Previously, shelling out a few bucks for a Netflix subscription was simpler than the alternative, which was risking your hard drive's safety on torrents. But with the huge oversaturation of streaming services these days, many people are turning back to the old ways of pirating. As of 2022, pirated material gets over 230 billion views per year.
Netflix will likely end up implementing their anti-password sharing measures in the U.S. Before they do it, however, they should probably consider that there’s a lot of people who will ultimately cancel and raise the Jolly Roger.
Danny William (they/them) is a freshman studying media. They admit their bias in this article with the confession that they haven’t watched Stranger Things since season two.