Netflix CEO Says Account Sharing Is OK

Remember when HBO’s CEO said the company was cool with users sharing their HBO GO passwords? Well, apparently, Netflix feels the same way. In an under-the-radar announcement from last week’s CES – likely dwarfed by news of Netflix’s global expansion – Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that consumers sharing Netflix account information was “a positive thing.”

Account sharing is generally a gray area in the world of online streaming. People are unsure if they’re breaking the rules, or even the law, if they log in using someone else’s account information. But for the operators of streaming services, account sharing isn’t always looked down upon, as HBO’s president Richard Plepler once made clear. Instead, he saw this sort of activity as a “terrific marketing vehicle” for the next generation of viewers, saying that his network was in the business of “building addicts,” and it did that by exposing its product, brand and shows to more people.

On a similar note, Hastings explained at CES that people who share someone else’s Netflix account often go on to become paying subscribers themselves at a later date, CNET reported.

“We love people sharing Netflix whether they’re two people on a couch or 10 people on a couch,,” Hastings said. “That’s a positive thing, not a negative thing.”

To illustrate this example, he spoke of how a parent may share their login with their child. And when that child grows up, they will usually subscribe to Netflix, too.

Given that Netflix already supports family accounts where each member can have their own profile, it’s interesting to hear that the CEO is still okay with account-sharing as an alternative to upgraded accounts where more users can sign in on multiple devices at the same time.

It seems that subscribing to your own Netflix account is just another coming-of-age milestone for today’s young adults, in the CEO’s mind.

“As kids move on in their life, they like to have control of their life, and as they have an income, we see them separately subscribe,” Hastings told reporters at CES. “It really hasn’t been a problem.”

While Hastings didn’t directly address how he feels about non-family members sharing their credentials – such as in the case where friends or roommates may split an account – it’s clear that the company’s consumer-friendly position is more focused on getting people addicted to its content in the hopes they’ll later becoming paying customers – just like HBO wanted, too.

Of course, Hastings may not see the need for an immediate crackdown on password-sharing today. After all, Netflix still has plenty of room to grow, particularly as it enters new markets. The company’s big CES news was that it’s moving into 130 new countries, including notable regions like India and Russia. That means the service, which boasts 70 million paying customers, is now live in over 190 countries worldwide.