Entertainment

1 in 3 Streaming Subscribers Say They’d Pay Extra to Share Their Passwords With More People

Baby boomers are the generation most likely to use a password of someone they don’t live with

bridgerton netflix
A scene from the hit Netflix original series "Bridgerton." Netflix says 30 million U.S. households are using a password that does not belong to them. (Liam Daniel/Netflix)

After recording its first subscriber loss in more than a decade, Netflix Inc. finds itself in a precarious position. One potential way to right the ship and recoup some revenue, the company believes: cracking down on password sharing. 

Netflix, which revealed during its earnings call this week that about 100 million households worldwide and 30 million in the United States access its content using someone else’s login information, announced last month it would experiment with charging subscribers an additional fee to legally share their accounts with users outside their homes, beginning in Latin America. New data from Morning Consult suggests that, while this move definitely won’t win over all consumers, it could help the company generate some additional revenue and add to its subscriber total.

1 in 3 Streaming Subscribers Would Pay Extra to Share Their Password

Respondents were asked if they would be willing to pay a higher subscription fee to legally share the password with others if sharing a streaming service password was no longer allowed

Survey conducted April 15-17, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,334 U.S. adults who said they either share their password with others or use a shared password, with an unweighted margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
There’s a market for paid password sharing
  • More than half (56%) of U.S. adults who said they either share their password with others or use a shared password indicated that they would not pay a higher subscription fee to legally share their account password if they could no longer do so for free. 
  • However, one-third of streaming subscribers said they would “definitely” or “probably” pay the fee to continue to share their password — a sizable amount of potential revenue Netflix is currently missing out on. 
  • Roughly half (52%) of current password sharers said they’d consider signing up for their own subscription if they could no longer share an account or password with another person.
Baby Boomers Are the Biggest Netflix Moochers

Respondents were asked to describe how they access Netflix

Survey conducted April 15-17, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,209 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Netflix password sharing, by generation 
  • Roughly 1 in 10 (11%) adults, which translates to about 28 million people, said they do not subscribe to Netflix but use the password of someone they don’t live with — which is technically a crime. In a letter to shareholders this week, Netflix gave a similar estimate, saying about 30 million households in the United States and Canada use Netflix without paying for it. 
  • At 16%, baby boomers were the generation most likely to say they use the password of someone outside of their household. Seven percent of Gen Zers, along with 9% of Gen Xers and millennials, said the same.
  • Gen Zers were most likely to say they give away their passwords to someone they do not live with, at 7%. The data suggests that many instances of password sharing are likely younger Netflix users allowing older ones — perhaps parents or grandparents — to use their accounts.
What’s next

Password sharing isn’t unique to Netflix — services like HBO Max, Disney+ and Apple TV+ actually had slightly higher rates of sharing, according to the survey. But after reporting it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter, the streaming service clearly feels pressured to take action now in a way those services don’t yet need to. Netflix, unlike other services, is no longer growing in the United States and finding it harder and harder to attract paying customers. So the next step is to turn moochers into subscribers — or to make more money off the sharers. 

A third of streaming subscribers saying they’d be interested in paying an additional fee to share a password suggests there’s some room for new growth in the U.S. market. Netflix’s decision to crack down on moochers could spark a trend in the months and years ahead, as other services eventually hit the same plateau. Netflix declined to comment on this story.

Survey conducted April 15-17, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,209 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult