As far as allowing you freedom to watch, Netflix is pretty good about things. You can register up to six devices to an account at one time, and stream simultaneously to two. It’s also pretty cool about passwords and log ons. No digging into your cable provider’s website to find your registration info, or worse, calling your friend with HBO and instructing them on how to find that info on their cable provider’s website.
And so Netflix knows that somewhere around 10 million of its subscribers are getting the service for free, by logging in under the accounts of friends or family, but rather than cracking down on those folks, they’re offering another option.
The newly announced Netflix Family Plan costs 50% more than usual (i.e., $11.99), but allows streaming on up to four devices simultaneously. Actually, their exact words were:
A few members with large families run into our 2-simultaneous-stream limit. To best serve these members, we’re shortly adding a 4-stream plan, at $11.99 in the U.S., and we expect fewer than 1% of members to take it.
Which is to say: look, we know y’all give out your Netflix passwords like candy, and we could try to crack down on that kind of thing and make everybody’s life miserable. But how about instead we make it easier for you to do that… provided you fork over a few more dollars. Less than you’d be paying for two accounts, but at least we’re getting something out of you.
While even Netflix is taking the position that grabbing a family plan is probably not going to appeal to the majority of their audience, I’m glad that this is their response to the sharing of accounts. And not just because I share an account (with my roommate, and we half the price between us, so don’t even start). Too often the response to piracy these days is to create hurdles for every user to clear, not just the guilty. A better tactic, in my opinion, is for companies to incentivize non-piracy, in Netflix’s case by making it easer for a nominal fee, rather than disincentivizing piracy by penalizing a large number of users indiscriminately.