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Netflix subscribers surge after crackdown on password sharing

Netflix saw a surge in new subscribers at the end of last year, attributed in part to the streaming giant bringing in a ban on password sharing.

The crackdown on password sharing, which started last May in a number of countries, hindered people in different households from using the same account.

It appears to be having the desired effect of prompting people to open their own accounts – as the company added 13.1 million worldwide subscribers in the last three months of 2023.

It was the third consecutive quarter in which Netflix boosted its subscribers, outstripping the 8.8 million subscribers gained in the July-September period.

The surge left Netflix with more than 260 million global subscribers at the end of 2023, an annual increase of nearly 30 million subscribers.

It was a stark contrast to 2022’s increase of 8.9 million subscribers – a lacklustre showing that raised questions about how the company was coping with growing competition for viewers.

But Netflix turned the trend around through its ban on password sharing and the rollout of a new low-priced streaming plan that featured adverts for the first time.

Netflix said the cheapest plan now accounts for 40% of new subscribers in the countries where it is offered, including the US and UK.

In the UK, the standard plan with adverts costs £4.99 a month; without adverts it is £10.99. The premium plan is £17.99 a month.

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In a call with analysts, Netflix co-chief executive Greg Peters predicted it will be several years before advertising sales bring in significant revenue.

But he told analysts Netflix remains confident it can convince viewers who are still getting around the password sharing ban to pay for their own plans.

“That [crackdown] will improve our growth for years,” he said.

Netflix also announced on Tuesday it will bring the popular wrestling program, WWE’s Raw, to its platform.

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