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11% of Netflix users are using somebody else's account

Barry Collins
20 May 2015
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Account borrowing is rife on Netflix - but does the streaming video service really care?

Are you watching Netflix using somebody else's account login? You're not alone, according to new research from the US, which suggests more than one in ten of the video streaming service's users are on borrowed accounts. 

The Parks Associates study found that Netflix had more shared account users than any other video streaming site. Eleven per cent of Netflix users are using an account paid for by someone else, compared to 10% of Hulu Plus users and 5% of Amazon Prime Instant Video users. 

The research suggests there could be a large number of students borrowing mum and dad's credentials. "Account sharing is highest among younger households, where 22% of those 18-24 who use an OTT [over the top] service use a subscription paid by someone outside of their household," Parks' research paper states. 

How to get American Netflix in the UK

Netflix takes a fairly relaxed approach to account sharing. Its most expensive plan (£8.99 per month here in the UK) allows up to four people to stream simultaneously using the same account details, whilst the cheapest plan (£5.99) will only support one device at a time, meaning it's far cheaper to buy an expensive tariff and share the logins with friends and family than buy separate accounts.

Netlfix's support page also tacitly condones such sharing. In response to a question about what to do when Netflix's app warns the account is already in use, the company replies: "If you've shared your Netflix account with friends or family, they may be using Netflix while you're trying to watch," without warning account sharing breaches the rules. The Netflix terms of use do seem to prohibit account sharing, however, warning that: "The Netflix service, and any content viewed through our service, are for your personal and non-commercial use only." 

With or without account sharing, the research suggests viewers are getting value for money from their accounts. Streaming now accounts for a third of the video consumed per week, but it only accounts for 9% of the household's video budget. 

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