TORONTO — Best friends, siblings and cousins across Canada may soon find themselves locked out of a shared Netflix account as the streaming giant begins cracking down on password sharing.
Netflix Canada began sending emails to Canadian users on Wednesday that outlined limits to how accounts can be accessed by users they don't live with.
It comes as Netflix seeks to grow subscribers and revenue after years of relying on password sharing to build word of mouth for its TV series and films.
Under the rules, premium and standard account holders can "buy an extra member slot" for $7.99 per month each.
For that price, premium high-definition 4K subscribers — who pay $20.99 per month — can add up to two members who don't live in their household.
Standard subscribers, who pay $16.49 per month, can add one additional member for the same additional monthly fee.
Basic plans, which cost $9.99, and ad-supported plans, which cost $5.99, will not be able to add more members.
Netflix did not say when it would begin enforcing the new rules but characterized the announcement as the first step toward requiring viewers to have an account for their own household.
A letter received by one subscriber Wednesday, titled "Netflix is for a single household," stated they had until Feb. 21 to add a "primary location" to their account.
This allows Netflix to recognize anyone who accesses the account outside the home base.
For viewers who frequently travel or own a second home, Netflix says the account holder will have to sign in on their Netflix mobile app at least once a month while connected to the Wi-Fi at their primary location.
Subscribers who move homes within Canada may be required to update their primary location to avoid being locked out of Netflix, according to the company's help page.
Netflix has tested password-sharing rules in Latin America over the past year, attracting blowback from some viewers who felt it unfair since other streaming services still allow password sharing.
However, Netflix has recently described the phenomenon as out of control, estimating that more than 100 million households share accounts, which affects its "ability to invest in great new TV and films."
The new restrictions were also applied to Spain, Portugal and New Zealand on Wednesday.
Netflix says the rules will be introduced to other countries over the next few months.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2023.
David Friend, The Canadian Press