Skip to main content

Netflix says 100 million sharing accounts will have to pay up, somehow

Netflix today released its earnings for the first quarter of 2022. And they’re not great. By which, we mean, they’re relatively stagnant, with revenue up to $7.868 billion, a 9.8% increase year over year. But it actually lost 200,000 subscribers — and it’s forecasting 2 million fewer subs for the second quarter of the year

In other words, not the sort of thing that makes investors or Wall Street happy.

Related Videos
Netflix app icon on Apple TV.
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

While we’re more concerned about Netflix as a tech platform and a destination for cool shows and movies, it’s worth noting the reasons for the lackluster quarter that Netflix cited in its letter to shareholders. First is the global pandemic. No surprise there — everyone knew the massive spike from everyone staying home was going to subside at some point. Netflix says the pandemic actually obscured four other reasons for the slowdown in growth.

  1. The adoption of smart TVs and other data-reliant devices. “We believe these factors will keep improving over time, so that all broadband households will be potential Netflix customers,” the company said.
  2. Increased competition from other streaming companies are cutting into Netflix’s numbers.
  3. “Macro” factors, like global inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  4. Account sharing.

That last one (which Netflix actually listed second) is worth breaking out. Netflix says the service is “being shared with over 100 million additional households,” including more than 30 million in the U.S. and Canada alone. “Account sharing as a percentage of our paying membership hasn’t changed much over the years, but, coupled with the first factor, means it’s harder to grow membership in many markets — an issue that was obscured by our COVID growth.”

More on Netflix

So there’s a global pandemic, war in Eastern Europe, and you giving your Netflix login to your parents, partners, and best friends.

For its part, Netflix says that “our plan is to reaccelerate our viewing and revenue growth by continuing to improve all aspects of Netflix — in particular the quality of our programming and recommendations, which is what our members value most.”

Netflix also says it’s going to figure out “how best to monetize sharing” given that more than 100 million households are freeloading. It’s already done so with a pilot program in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru that allows people to pay more for an extra two people who don’t live with them, and offers the ability to transfer a profile to a new account, so someone who’s been using another person’s login can start paying for their own and keep their history and recommendations.

“This is a big opportunity as these households are already watching Netflix and enjoying our service,” the company said. “Sharing likely helped fuel our growth by getting more people using and enjoying Netflix. And we’ve always tried to make sharing within a member’s household easy, with features like profiles and multiple streams. While these have been very popular, they’ve created confusion about when and how Netflix can be shared with other households.”

That’s about as close as Netflix came in the letter to saying that the gravy train is ending. It acknowledges that it won’t get all 100 million of those non-paying logins. But it’s going to get something. “While we won’t be able to monetize all of it right now, we believe it’s a large short- to mid-term opportunity.”

In other words, enjoy it while it lasts, you cheapskates.

Editors' Recommendations

YouTube TV rolls out multiview: watch up to 4 NCAA games at once
An example of YouTube TV's multiview feature.

If you love college basketball and can process more than one game at a time, you're going to go bananas for YouTube TV's new multiview feature, which will be rolling out on a limited, early access basis starting March 14.  With multiview, you'll be able to pick up to four channels and see them all simultaneously, with the ability to easily flip the active audio from one to another. The new feature is compatible with any TV-based YouTube TV installations (streaming media players, smart TVs, and game consoles), but it doesn't yet work on mobile devices or computers.

Initially, multiview will only be available to select YouTube TV users, who will be chosen at random. But Google says the goal is to include every subscriber by the time NFL football season starts in the fall. Another limitation, at least for now, is that YouTube TV will preselect the multiview channels you can choose. At launch, only channels that carry NCAA tournament games will be included in that preselected list.
How to use YouTube TV multiview
If you're one of the lucky, randomly chosen users, you'll see an option to watch up to four preselected, different streams at once in your “Top Picks for You” section. After selecting multiview, you can switch audio and captions between streams, and jump in and out of a full-screen view of a game.
It's all about sports
At the moment, YouTube TV sees multiview as an enhancement of the sports viewing experience, so only sports content will be eligible. YouTube TV has had some big sports wins in 2022, including 4K coverage of the Soccer World Cup, and that trend will continue in 2023 thanks to its acquisition of the NFL Sunday Ticket games. However, YouTube TV recently lost access to MLB Network and the add-on, which reduces the amount of sports content available for multiview in 2023.

Read more
T-Mobile customers can now get MLS Season Pass for free
MLS Season Pass on T-Mobile Tuesday app.

As was foretold, T-Mobile customers can now grab their free subscription to MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. It's part of the "T-Mobile Tuesdays" incentive that gives subscribers free stuff throughout the year, and the latest in a string of streaming-related freebies made available by the wireless provider.

All you'll need to make good on the promotion is a T-Mobile account and the T-Mobile Tuesday app. From there, you'll be prompted to redeem a unique code. Log in to your Apple account, use that unique code, and you're good t ogo.

Read more
Presidents Day Sales 2023: Tracking the deals as they start

The holiday sales are over and the new year has arrived, so if you're looking forward to the next big retail event, then the 2023 Presidents Day sales are your best bet. This is one of the few major holidays to land in the first quarter of the year, with Presidents Day deals covering everything from electronics to home essentials. Whether Santa didn't bring you one of the gifts you wanted or you still have some Christmas money burning a hole in your wallet, then now's the time to start readying your shopping list for the upcoming Presidents Day sales -- and we're tracking the best deals as they emerge, starting today.
Presidents Day sales that have already started

Amazon: Savings across a variety of different categories, including laptops.
Casper: Save up to $940 on select mattresses and up to 60% on bedding.
Dell: Massive discounts on laptops, monitors, and smart home.
Dyson: As much as $200 off Dyson vacuum cleaners and fans.
Home Depot: 30% off select mattresses and bedroom furniture.
HP: Up to 55% off laptops, monitors, and printers.
Leesa: Price cuts of up to $375 on best-selling mattresses.
Lowe’s: Up to 40% off appliances like refrigerators and washer-dryers.
Nectar: Discounts and $300 worth of free goodies with every mattress.
Overstock: An extra 15% off select bedroom and living room furniture.
Staples: 40% off chairs and furniture, including filing cabinets and desks.
Target: Up to 25% off home decor, including furniture and lighting.
Tempur-Pedic: Save up to $500 on select mattress sets.
Tuft & Needle: 10% off sitewide and up to 15% off mattresses.

Read more