In 2007, the world changed. Instead of driving over to your nearest Blockbuster to secure a disk for Friday’s movie night, you could stream everything on your television through Netflix’s brand-new Watch Now platform. It was the beginning of Netflix’s media empire, in which the company quickly became the only way to watch TV shows and movies without leaving the comfort of your couch. At its peak, the service had over 209 million subscribers in 190 countries. On top of providing a library featuring 15,000 titles, they were producing their own shows, movies and even video games. In other words, Netflix was on top of the world.
However, times have changed, and Netflix is no longer the dominant streaming platform. In fact, the platform lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2002, while other sites like Disney+, Prime Video and Hulu gained. To keep up with the growing market, Netflix has decided to take a turn for the worse. In the past year, they have made some unsavory decisions, including raising prices, adding advertisements and implementing a “password sharing crackdown.”
This new rule means that every Netflix account will be attached to a primary household or location, which will need to be repeatedly logged into to prevent being kicked out of the account. If someone signs in to the account without being attached to the primary household, they will be blocked. When questioned about this rule for more unconventional family situations, the company responded that their definition of a household is those who reside in a home together. Not only is this a problematic definition of a family, but it also alienates many groups.
As an army brat myself, I can understand the struggles of having a parent deployed. It takes a huge toll emotionally, mentally and financially. The last thing a military family needs is to be worried about their streaming service access and prices. With Netflix’s new password sharing policy, military members overseas would not be able to use Netflix since they are unable to log in at the primary household. On top of that, they may be unable to create a new account due to the continuous movement and placement of overseas troops. Having the time to relax and rewind while watching a Netflix show may be really helpful for these people and could likely even be crucial to their mental health. By taking this away, Netflix is making it harder for these troops to adapt to a life away from home.
Furthermore, every college kid knows that Netflix is a huge part of our lives. Whether it be watching a rom-com with friends, binge-watching old episodes with your significant other or staying up late to watch the premiere of your favorite show, we all rely on the service for good memories. With many students paying their own way through school or relying on loans and scholarships, it may be impossible to pay for a separate Netflix subscription. With classes, clubs and other social activities, packing up all your electronics and heading home every few weeks to log into your Wi-Fi is not an option for most students. With this new policy, students may start taking a step away from the iconic platform and relying on other services.
Lastly, by implying that a family all resides in a single household, Netflix is alienating families who are dealing with complicated situations. Some families are dealing with displacement, homelessness or abusive situations. Claiming that these people are not a family due to not having a primary household is disturbing. Why does a family have to be defined by a home address?
Overall, Netflix needs to sort out its priorities. By focusing on password sharing and being greedy about account payments, they are missing out on bigger issues like canceling shows and losing subscribers. Back in 2017, Netflix posted the iconic tweet, “Love is sharing a password.” Netflix needs to return to these roots and remove this ban on password sharing. Their main goal now should be to pay attention to the subscriber-relationship that they have spent over a decade building.
Nicolette Cavallaro is a senior majoring in psychology.