Netflix tests feature that limits account sharing, ignites users' wrath

Netflix is now testing a feature that allows only users under the same home address to gain access to a subscribed account. This means that if the user trying to access the account does not have the same home address as the user who subscribed to the platform, Netflix will prompt the user to subscribe to their own account. In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a Netflix spokesperson confirmed the testing of such a feature and said: "This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorised to do so."

While the move comes as Netflix looks to protect members from potential issues associated with unauthorised account use and security concerns, it is also unveiled at a time when streaming wars are picking up pace. While this is only at a test phase, and not a feature that has been officially rolled out on the platform, the move has ignited the wrath of online netizens, who took to Twitter to voice their unhappiness. A quick check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw that many netizens thought such a regulation will be unfair, and users should have the freedom to decide who to share their password with. As one netizen said: "If I'm paying for five devices I should be able to use my account from any location." Another pointed out that password sharing should not be a big deal for Netflix, given that it overcharges and regularly removes shows on its platform.

Some users also raised the concern that such a move might lead to consumers shifting their preference from Netflix. A Twitter user said this feature is "only going to cause people to cancel" Netflix since there are way too many streaming services in the market. 

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Separately, data from Meltwater revealed that online mentions of Netflix skyrocketed to over 40k on 12 March, when word first got out about its testing. Of which, key terms such as "password sharing", "households", and "bout to lose" were mentioned frequently. Meltwater also found that 40% of Netflix's mentions were negative, with Twitter seeing 29,177 negative sentiment in the week. 

In Southeast Asia specifically, Netflix has recently seen the entry of a new competitor, The Walt Disney Company, as the latter launches its streaming services Disney+ and Hotstar into markets such as Singapore and Indonesia. According to a recent study done in Singapore by Pioneer Consulting Asia Pacific, out of the 73% of respondents who are currently subscribed to Netflix, 63% said they were planning to sign up for Disney+ as well. This proves the possible threat that Disney+ can be to Netflix, which also had to remove Disney-owned movies it once hosted on its platform.

Globally, Disney+ has also surpassed 100 million global paid subscribers in just 16 months since its launch. During the company’s virtual annual meeting of shareholders, Chapek said the “enormous success” of Disney+ has inspired the team to be even more ambitious, and to significantly increase investment in the development of high-quality content.

Earlier this month, Netflix launched a "Fast Laughs" feature on iPhone offering a feed of funny clips from its comedy catalogue to tickle consumers without having to watch a full TV series or movie. The new feature includes films such as Murder Mystery, series such as Big Mouth, and sitcoms such as The Crew. It also contains clips from stand-up comedians such as Jerry Seinfield, Ali Wong and Kevin Hart. Fast Laughs is located at the bottom navigation menu next to "Coming Soon", and the clips will begin playing when one ends. 

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