'Why would we pay when we can get it for free?': Students access Netflix without cost

Students say having a shared Netflix account is the sensible thing to do, as multiple...
Students say having a shared Netflix account is the sensible thing to do, as multiple subscriptions will only cost more. Photo: Emily Moorhouse
University students have been streaming their favourite TV shows and movies on Netflix but haven't paid for subscriptions.

Instead, many students have relied on their parents' or even their friend's parents' accounts to binge the latest shows for free through the multiple profiles feature.

In one Christchurch student flat, four out of five students use a Netflix account they haven't paid for, whether it be their parents', friend's parents' or other family members'.

Netflix allows each account to create up to five user profiles with different monthly subscription plans on how many devices can stream at once.

Students spoken to by the NZ Herald were asked why they piggyback on Netflix accounts and said it was because of "affordability".

"It makes more sense to have a family Netflix account so you can have multiple profiles instead of each person individually getting an account which would cost more."

Another student said, "Why would we pay when we can get it for free?"

Students from a Christchurch flat stream Netflix for free by either sharing a relative's or...
Students from a Christchurch flat stream Netflix for free by either sharing a relative's or friend's account. Photo: Emily Moorhouse
Data from Roy Morgan showed Netflix is New Zealand's most watched service, with well over two million viewers.

The "basic plan" ($11.99) allows users to stream on one device at a time while the "standard plan" ($16.99) allows for two devices and the "premium plan" ($21.99) allows for four devices to stream at a time.

So, should the multibillion-dollar streaming service be concerned about missing out on more subscription fees?

Jessica Wilson, at Consumer NZ, said Netflix's terms of use state the service is for personal use and "may not be shared with individuals beyond your household". However, Netflix is aware that account sharing does happen.

"There's been speculation the company may start to clamp down on password sharing. To what extent this happens remains to be seen."

A 2017 survey by LendEDU reported that 92 per cent of college students have access to Netflix, but more than 50 per cent don't pay for a subscription.

The US survey showed that out of 6567 college students only 34 per cent have their own Netflix account while 54 per cent used a friend's or family member's account and 5 per cent used their current or ex-partner's account.

Account sharing on Netflix is arguably common practice, particularly with students living out of home, but this may change.

US website The Streamable hinted at Netflix cracking down on account sharing in early 2021.

It was reported that some viewers were prompted with a message that read "If you don't live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching."

This was followed by the option to verify the account through text message or email.












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