Who Are Netflix’s Account Sharers?

Trends
Chase Buckle / January 14, 2016

By launching its service into 130 additional countries, Netflix can expect to see a strong growth in membership numbers.

However, this will come hand-in-hand with a rise in account sharing, an area where Netflix has expressed conflicting sentiments. Although CEO Reed Hastings has been rather relaxed on the issue, Chief Product Manager Neil Hunt has stipulated that Netflix sharing should only really be taking place within households (something supported by the service’s own Terms & Conditions).

According to GWI’s data, Netflix sharing is widespread; as many as 65% of Netflix users in markets like the USA and UK say they are not the only user of their account. That means the total Netflix audience is much bigger than its total number of accounts would suggest, especially as 1 in 5 of the Netflixers we surveyed said they were sharing their account with 3 or more people.

So, who are these Netflix sharers? And how many of them are sharing in ways that Netflix wouldn’t be too happy about? The good news for the service is that the majority of users who say they don’t pay for the account themselves are using one funded by someone else in their household (with 36% of this group saying they live with their partner and 3 in 10 living with their parents). However, that leaves a not insignificant group who are sharing in rather less “official” ways; 15% of non-paying Netflix users say they live alone, for example. What’s more, some of the 12% who live with friends/singles could well be using accounts registered at the homes of their parents/relatives.

One thing that Netflix has expressed particular concern about is older children taking their parents’ Netflix account off to university with them. Although our data suggests that this isn’t widespread, it’s certainly worth noting that around 10% of Netflix account sharers classify themselves as students (a large chunk of whom don’t live with their parents). What’s more, that a quarter of Netflix account sharers say they have children above the age of 17 means that many of these offspring will have formed households of their own. Little wonder that Netflix is so keen to address this issue, then.