Saturday, 13 March 2021 12:08

Staff Reporter.

Netflix is testing a feature that asks viewers to verify they share a household with the account holder, the company said, a move that could lead to a clampdown on sharing of passwords.

A small number of Netflix users are receiving a message asking them to confirm they live with the account owner by entering details from a text message or e-mail sent to the owner.

Viewers can delay the verification and keep watching Netflix. The message may reappear when they open Netflix again, and eventually they could be required to open a new account to continue streaming.

"This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorised to do so," a Netflix spokesman said.

Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service, constantly tests new features with users and it is unclear if the household verification requirement will be implemented more widely.

The Netflix terms of service say that users of an account must live in the same household, though the company and other streaming services have declined to broadly crack down on sharing.  

In January, Netflix announced it crossed 200 million paid subscribers in 2020 as Covid-19 restrictions helped it to gain viewership.

Average paid streaming memberships increased 23 per cent year over year in Q4 2020.

"Since the start of 2018, our paid memberships have risen from 111m to 204 million and our average revenue per membership has grown from $9.88 to $11.02, despite significant F/X (foreign exchange) headwinds," Netflix said.

"This approach has allowed us to organically increase revenue by $4-$5 billion annually over the past several years," it added.

For 2020, Netflix added a record 37 million paid memberships, achieved $25 billion in annual revenue - over 24 per cent year over year - and grew operating profit 76 per cent to $4.6 billion.