Netflix Tightens The Reins On The Number Of Concurrent Video Streams Per Account — UPDATE

Netflix is clearly on the prowl for some extra cash and just closed a popular loophole. The company’s terms of service has long restricted the number of concurrent video streams to the number of DVDs the user was able to rent at a time. Have a one DVD-at-a-time plan? Per the TOS, you were able to have one Netflix video stream going at a time. Two DVDs at a time? Two video streams. But it was just loosely enforced with a random pop-up message. That is until now.

Starting over the holiday weekend, users instantly received a new error message if they used more than their allotted streams. This message, shown after the jump, kindly indicates to the offending user that a movie is already being watched on this account. This is bad news bears for those freeloading on someone else’s Netflix account.

Nothing has changed in Netflix’s terms of service; the company is just now enforcing its policies. This comes just after the infamous price increases that forced current subscribers to fork over 60% more cash for the same level of service. Now, if a user or family wants to watch Netflix streaming on various devices at the same time, they’re going to have to pay considerably more. The Two DVD plus Streaming plan costs $19.98 a month, three DVDs costs $23.98 and the four DVD plan runs $29.99.

Netflix’s Terms of Use

Personal Computer Requirements and Device Limitations: To enjoy watching instantly via your personal computer, your equipment must satisfy certain system requirements. Click here to view the various system requirements. To see partners who offer Netflix ready devices you may use to access our service, click here. YOU MAY INSTANTLY WATCH ON UP TO SIX UNIQUE AUTHORIZED NETFLIX READY DEVICES. YOU WILL BE ALLOWED TO INSTANTLY WATCH SIMULTANEOUSLY ON ONLY ONE SUCH DEVICE AT ANY GIVEN TIME. For certain membership plans in the United States, you may instantly watch simultaneously on more than one Netflix ready device within your household. Click here to view the number of devices on which you may simultaneously view movies & TV shows that are associated with your plan. The number of devices and concurrent streams may change without notice to you. For certain limited membership plans in the United States, your available Netflix ready device may be limited to personal computers.

Netflix’s FAQ

Can I watch movies instantly on more than one PC or Netflix-ready device?
Some membership plans allow you to watch simultaneously on more than one personal computer or Netflix-ready device. If you are on the Unlimited Streaming plan, the Unlimited Streaming + 1 DVD out-at-a-time plan or a limited streaming plan, you may watch only one device at a time.
If you are on the Unlimited Streaming + 2 DVDs out-at-a-time plan, you may watch on up to two devices at a time. Members on the Unlimited Streaming + 3 DVDs out-at-a-time plan may watch on up to three devices at a time. The maximum is four devices at a time — available for members on the Unlimited Streaming + 4-or greater DVDs out-at-a-time plan.

Netflix has every right to enforce its policies. However, the company clearly thought it best to pull the band-aid off as quick as possible by increasing the prices and hardlining on its TOS at the same time. I think I would have delayed this latest change a bit longer, though. Netflix lost most of its good-will on the last bit of news.

Update: Per Netflix’s VP of Communication, Steve Swasey, the restrictions happened in error and the company is not actively blocking concurrent video streams. Great! How ’bout you change the wording on your website then, eh?