Netflix password-sharing crackdown is coming soon — here’s what we know

A TV with the Netflix logo sits behind a hand holding a remote
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Netflix account sharers be warned, the streamer is fully committed to its previously announced password-sharing crackdown. And it's been confirmed the rollout of this plan designed to convert “borrowers” to paid account holders will begin over the next few weeks.

During its latest earning report (opens in new tab), Netflix confirmed that its password-sharing crackdown will begin rolling out “more broadly” towards the end of the first quarter of 2023. This would suggest that by April we can expect more accounts to feel the squeeze as Netflix seeks to ensure that everybody using its platform is paying for the privilege. 

Netflix’s current terms of use technically already limit accounts to a single household, but until now the streamer hasn't widely enforced this restriction. On the topic of cracking down on password-sharing Netflix writes, “We recognize this is a change for members who share their account more broadly.” And the streamer also confirms that “members in many countries will also have the option to pay extra if they want to share Netflix with people they don’t live with.”

Netflix calls these users, who regularly consume Netflix content via an account they don’t directly pay for, “borrowers” and it estimates more than 100m households fall into this category. The goal of this crackdown is to either convert these viewers into full-paid subscribers with their own accounts or to charge the main account holder a fee for sharing their password with a friend or family member. 

Naturally, this won’t be a well-received change by many, and in an accompanying earnings call new Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters said it “won’t be a universally popular move” and acknowledged that some users will cancel their accounts in protest. Nevertheless, Netflix still expects this change to have an overall net positive impact on subscriber numbers. And also expects many of the users who cancel out of frustration to return when a new flagship show hits the platform. 

Netflix began testing out its password-sharing crackdown plan last year, with users in select South American regions asked to pay an extra fee for a "sub-account". And it appears those tests satisfied the streamer enough to roll the update out further. Netflix notes that it did initially lose subscribers in these regions, but overall engagement grew over time as former borrowers signed up for their own accounts after a cooling-off period. 

So, like it or not, it appears that the days of being able to easily share a single Netflix account with your entire family or circle of friends are very much numbered. 

The world’s biggest streaming service weathered a storm in 2022 facing criticism for canceling too many TV shows and for the lackluster launch of its ad-supported tier. Nevertheless, Netflix confirmed during its earning report that its overall number of subscribers rose by 7.7m users in its last quarter. Clearly, despite all the social media noise suggesting otherwise, Netflix continues to hold a very strong position in the streaming world. 

Rory Mellon
Deals Editor

Rory is a Deals Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on deals, gaming and streaming. When he’s not scouring retailers for PS5 restock or writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found attending music festivals and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.