Hijabi Hot Takes: Netflix hates college students


Nadine Jallal, Opinion Writer

About a year ago, Netflix announced that it will begin cracking down on password sharing. Their new policy has been rolled out in several Latin American countries such as Costa Rica and Chile. Recently, Netflix has alluded that it might be rolling out their new policy in the U.S., possibly in an upcoming quarter. The new policy disallows password sharing between people who do not live in the same household. It also introduces extra steps to ensure you are in the same household as the primary account holder.

Currently, users can subscribe to Netflix for a cost of $9.99-$19.99, depending on if they want one, two or four screens available to stream at the same time. With the update, you can still subscribe to a certain number of screens, but there is a catch: all screens must be in the same household. According to Netflix’s help center, they will “use information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity from devices signed into the Netflix account” to ensure that a device is within the household.

Many issues come to mind with this new release. First, where do college students fit in this business model? While other streaming services provide discounted services for college students, Netflix does not offer any special student discounts. Consequently, many college students utilize the streaming service through their parents, family members or friends. Majority of college students, including App State students, do not live at home. Introducing a household-only rule will disproportionately impact college students. A Netflix family plan should not have stipulations on living in the same household. There are countless circumstances that could explain a family not living in the same household, the existence of college students just being one of them.

Netflix estimates 100 million Netflix subscribers are password sharing outside of their households and this policy could disrupt that trend of password sharing and create more revenue for Netflix. They have even accounted for possible cancelations due to disgruntled customers, but predict that overall, they will see a revenue from users creating their own accounts. Seeing as the U.S. inflation rate has seen heavy increases over the past couple of years, targeting a vulnerable group like college students with Netflix’s new policy is insensitive. More than one-third of college students are food and housing insecure. At the very least, college students should be able to share Netflix passwords with one another or stay on their parents’ accounts for entertainment.

Netflix stipulates that one must log into their Netflix account using their household wifi at least once every 31 days to stop their device from being blocked. Furthermore, Netflix reserves the right to ask for device verification at any point. Device verification, according to their help page, sends a code to the account-holder’s email or phone number upon log in. The code must be inputted within 15 minutes or the device risks being blocked. Again, many issues come to mind with this policy. College students are not guaranteed time to go home every 31 days to log into Netflix in their household. Furthermore, some college students may be in different timezones than their household and the 15 minute stipulation can be tricky to navigate. Parents could also just be asleep, at work or literally doing anything else other than checking their phone to give their college student a Netflix code.

Though Netflix predicts this new policy will give them increased revenue, the public outrage over the new policy suggests they will see a lot more cancelations than they thought. Recent outrage over Netflix has not only been about the new policy, but also their habit of canceling beloved shows. If Netflix does not do some damage control, people will flock to other streaming services and cancel their Netflix subscriptions. Considering 75% of their subscribers are ages 18-34 and many people in that age group are college students who will be impacted by this new policy, Netflix is on thin ice.