Netflix’s new account-sharing rules punish students for being students

As a Canadian, I will now be among the first lucky ones to contend with Netflix’s new account sharing rules. As a parent of one college student and one soon-to-be college student, I’m also among the first people who will have to tell their child — in true Canadian style — sorry, no more Netflix for you.

Simon Cohen / Digital trends

You see, my son goes to school about 45 minutes from home. Not far at all by university (or college for my American friends) standards, but still far enough to no longer qualify as a household member, according to Netflix.

In an email sent to its Canadian subscribers on February 9, the company made it crystal clear right in the subject line: “Netflix is ​​for one household.” No, in other words, for one family, no matter how you personally define family.

So despite the fact that I pay for Netflix Premium (C$21 a month), which entitles me to watch Netflix on up to four screens at once, and despite the fact that there are only three people in our house right now, all four of those screens have to be in the same physical location (or at least on the same Wi-Fi network).

There is another workaround, but you won’t like it.

It’s my choice, do I want to keep my son’s ability to access Netflix while he’s at school, pay an extra $8 CAD a month, which would allow him to transfer the profile to a sub account and give him the same 4K/HDR/Spatial sound quality level we get at home, but only on one device — no more screens for it.

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At first I thought I could use my Netflix travel allowance to get over this hurdle. The company will allow you to continue streaming from a remote location like a hotel or Airbnb without penalty. But there is a catch. It only works on a device pre-assigned an IP address from your primary location (which Netflix requires you to declare) and only works for 30 days. If you’re gone for longer than that time, you’ll have to change your primary location or nothing else Cobra Kai for you.

There is another workaround, but you won’t like it. As long as you only watch Netflix on non-TV devices (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.), you don’t need to declare a primary location and Netflix won’t automatically assign it to you. So while it’s fine for everyone to gather around a 10-inch iPad to get their streaming fix (or maybe four different iPads?), at this point members of your household may be in different locations.

I wouldn’t count on it as a long-term solution. If Netflix realized the amount of money it’s leaving on the table with password sharing, you can bet they’ll be keeping a close eye on how many people never report their primary location.

I won’t lie. I’m pretty steamed. We pay a lot for our various streaming services — more, frankly, than we’ve ever spent on cable alone — and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that my immediate family should have access to those services. And I see no reason why a student, who is out of the household for only nine months of the year, should suddenly be cut off.

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It seems like Netflix is ​​starting to act like a cable company, where physical location actually matters. It feels like Netflix is ​​punishing my child for being a student away from home. And it makes me think about punishing Netflix by taking my streaming business elsewhere.

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