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Netflix not-so-chill: Students discuss streaming service's crackdown on password sharing

June 16, 2023
Photo Illustration
Photo Illustration

In 2017, Netflix tweeted that "love is sharing a password." Now, sharing a password may come with an additional fee

In March of 2022, Netflix released a statement saying that though password sharing was popular, navigating separate profiles and simultaneous streaming as a result was impacting their ability to invest in "great" TV and film for subscribers

Now, subscribers who want to have an extra member on their account must pay $7.99 a month or transfer an existing profile to the account, Netflix said in May.  The company emailed the change to current subscribers who were sharing accounts outside of their household

For Michigan State University students like neuroscience sophomore LaMonica Reeves, who uses her parents' login, the password-sharing restriction means losing access to a comfort streaming service.  

Reeves said she spends long hours on Netflix binging shows such as "Stranger Things" to unwind in her dorm. With the implementation of an extra fee for sharing accounts, Reeves said, she doesn't have the money to keep up with monthly payments as a college student.

“It’s easier to just use your family account and watch Netflix,” Reeves said.

Considering Netflix's popularity among families and students, Reeves said, she believes the password-crack down will result in Netflix losing many of their young subscribers. She added that her parents still have an active account with Netflix.

But for others, like biochemistry and pre-dental sophomore Cliff Sprivey, the password fee, in addition to the recent raise in Netflix membership rates, maintaining a subscription is not worth the services offered. Sprivey said his parents canceled their membership because they felt it had been rendered pointless after both price raises.

Sprivey said he thinks Netflix should offer student discounts like other streaming services, such as Amazon Prime and Hulu. If Netflix doesn't lower their prices, he said, they could lose a vast majority of their customers, many of whom have become more dependent on streaming since COVID.

“(Netflix) understood that during COVID, they could mark up those prices because everyone wanted them … but now, you know, not everybody is always (at) home,” Sprivey said. “Now there’s a lot more options, (so) there’s no point in having Netflix.”

Reeves said considering that Netflix is a multibillion-dollar company and earns a hefty profit, they should eliminate their strict password policy.  

“I don’t think (Netflix) needs that excessive amount of money,” Reeves said. “I don’t know if it’s like a money grab, but I just feel like if (they were) doing (good) already with people sharing the password, then I don’t see the issue (now).”

In addition to entertainment and relaxation, Reeves said, streaming services can sometimes offer help to students who have to watch films or TV shows for course assignments and material

In 2022, Michigan State University offered on-campus students access to free Xfinity services, which offer live TV, Xfinity on Demand and DVR. The access also includes streaming services such as HBO and Peacock included in housing rates.

Veterinary nursing freshman Nataley Johnson said she didn't know about the MSU-provided streaming but looks forward to using it.

“I think the streaming services that MSU provides is definitely beneficial,” Johnson said

Sprivey said he feels that if MSU promotes the provided services more, students like him would gravitate towards it, especially with the new Netflix password policy.

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