Netflix is sharpening its digital knives once more and taking aim at the more than 100 million accounts being shared by users on its platform. In a test beginning next month in five countries in Latin America, the streaming giant will limit the number of days you can watch Netflix on a TV outside your primary home.
Chengyi Long, the company’s director of product innovation, announced the new measure, which the company sneakily calls the “add a home feature,” in a news announcement on Monday. Long explained that each Netflix account includes one default home where you watch the service on a TV. You will be allowed to watch Netflix on a TV for up to two weeks in a different location for free but must pay to “add an extra home” if you want to use it for longer.
After two weeks, watching Netflix on a TV will be blocked if you don’t pay, the company explained in a blog post. The add a home feature will be rolled out in Argentina, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras on August 22.
The product innovation director again attributed the new change to the company’s decision to crack down on password sharing, albeit in a painstakingly cautious tone.
“It’s great that our members love Netflix movies and TV shows so much they want to share them more broadly,” Long said. “But today’s widespread account sharing between households undermines our long term ability to invest in and improve our service.”
To tell you the truth, I was alarmed when I first saw the news because I thought it might affect people who watch Netflix on public transport or at the gym. However, Netflix only appears to be taking aim at TVs, which account for the majority of its viewing.
In the announcement, Long said that users will be able to watch Netflix on their tablet, laptops, or phones with no limitations. The company considers this type of viewing to be “traveling.”
Netflix explained that it classifies and detects a user’s “home” by analyzing information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity.
Prices to watch Netflix on a TV outside your home will an extra $2.99 a month per home, Netflix said, and 219 pesos a month extra per home in Argentina. The number of extra homes you can add will depend on your plan. Users with basic plans can add one extra home, those with standard plans can add two homes, and users with premium plans can add up to three homes.
In response to a question from Gizmodo about whether the company plans to roll out this new feature in the U.S. or globally, Netflix did not elaborate and pointed us to Long’s post, which reads: “We will not make changes in other countries until we better understand what’s easiest for our members.”
The add a home feature represents the company’s latest effort to tackle slowing user growth and increase its revenue streams. Back in March, it announced a “guilt tax” for users in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru and prompted them to pay more to “add an extra member” to their account.
“We value our members, and recognize that they have many entertainment choices,” Long said. “So we’re working hard to make great TV shows and films, and to be as thoughtful as possible about how we charge for use across multiple homes.”
Update 7/20/2022, 8:51 a.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional information from Netflix.