Sep 07

Netflix Cracks Down on Sharing: One Stream Per Customer Unless You Pay More

Netflix streaming customers who happen to share their account with other family members are having a frustrated Labor Day weekend as Netflix completes implementation of strict new limits on the number of concurrent video streams available for viewing.


The Netflix Multiple Stream error

Netflix Multiple-Stream Error screen

Netflix has always unofficially had streaming limitations:

Some membership plans allow you to watch simultaneously on more than one personal computer or Netflix ready device at the same time. If you are on the 1 disc out at-a-time plan [or stream-only plan], you may watch only one device at a time. If you are on the 2 discs out at-a-time plan, you may watch on up to two devices at the same time. Members on the 3 disc plan can watch on up to three devices. The maximum is four devices simultaneously, and that is available for members on the 4 or greater discs out at-a-time plans.

But many of our readers have told us they have never had problems running two or even three concurrent streams at the same time on a “stream-only” plan… until recently.  What Netflix’s “official policy” was and what customers could actually do were two different things.

“Netflix never liked two streams at the same time on the same browser, but if you have several family members, two or three people could watch different shows on their own devices at the same time, but no more,” says Stop the Cap! reader Jared Ustel.  “As of this weekend, streaming customers can only watch one show at a time.”

Stop the Cap! was able to verify this ourselves this weekend.  Sure enough, while in the recent past we were able to support up to three video streams running at the same time, now it is just one.

This new restriction seems timed to coincide with Netflix’s recent price increases, which took effect Sept. 1.  Now, large families sharing a Netflix account will either have to reserve time to watch their respective favorites or:

  1. Pay considerably more for a combo disc-rental/streaming plan which unlocks a corresponding number of concurrent streams.  If you want two concurrent video streams, you will need to pay $19.98 a month, which also allows you two mailed DVD’s out at a time.  Three streams and DVD’s runs $23.98, four: $29.98;
  2. Sign up for a second Unlimited Streaming account at an additional $7.99 a month;
  3. Forget about Netflix.

While Netflix may have been hoping to cut down on the number of “shared accounts” with friends and distant family members, their policy change will hit families hard.

With the controversial Sept. 1 price increase effectively near-doubling the cost to watch video streams and rent one DVD at a time by mail, now may not be the best time to further antagonize loyal customers.

via Stop the Cap!.

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