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How Will Netflix Changes Affect Truck Drivers?


While you've probably heard about Netflix's recent announcement that they are going to crack down on password sharing, you may have missed the details of how these changes will be implemented and how they will impact users. These updates will affect account access for anyone who travels for a living, and that frustrates many truck drivers who rely on Netflix and other streaming services for entertainment while on the road.

Netflix Changes Coming 

Beginning sometime in 2023, Netflix will enforce new restrictions on password sharing. It's likely they will be tracking the IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity of users, flagging anything that looks fraudulent and requiring those devices to re-verify with the company. What types of things will be considered fraudulent? It appears that they will be watching for unexpected locations and devices, as well as devices continuously using alternate wifis.

Information about the details of these changes was "mistakenly" released on the American Netflix FAQ page on Tuesday, leading to criticism of the company's policies. Netflix has since changed their FAQ page, explaining that these proposed changes are not yet official and should not have been released. From what we have seen, Netflix has not renounced the leaked policies as incorrect, rather it is emphasizing that the changes are not set in stone.

Netflix says they have been testing the proposed changes in the Chilean, Costa Rican, and Peruvian markets, and are non-committal about which changes they plan to bring to the US. In their trial markets, users have been asked to define a "primary location" through their television or streaming device by designating a home wifi network. All connected devices must be part of the network or they will be flagged. If users do not set a primary location, the system will automatically assign one based on their account activity. 

Amidst the murky information provided by Netflix, what is clear is this:  If these changes were to be made permanent in the American market, they would have a negative impact on drivers. 

How Netflix Changes Will Affect Truckers

Netflix's FAQ page stated that those who are traveling and are the primary account holder shouldn't have any problems unless their device is away from home for more than 31 consecutive days. But, they may be asked to reverify their device while away, which involves getting a code from the primary account holder and entering that code into the "traveling" device.

If the device remains on the road, users will be able to utilize the "allowed" device for only one week before being asked to re-verify. It is unclear how many times Netflix will allow users to utilize this exemption before being required to purchase an additional off-site user plan.

This could signal a problem for many drivers who may not ever return their device to their home wifi network, instead opting to leave a TV or tablet in their truck permanently connected to mobile 5G internet. No one likes messing with persistent verifications and technological hoop jumping, perhaps least of all truck drivers. These individuals will hardly want to pay for another home location at $3 or more a month.

Why Are These Changes Coming?

After an initial boon to business during the pandemic due to so many people having more time at home, Netflix saw memberships drop the last few years. In an effort to boost membership, income, and stock prices, Netflix implemented a new pricing structure last year. They also announced that password sharing--a phenomenon that Netflix actually encouraged in their early years--would soon be a thing of the past as they plan to implement new technology to inhibit it and force those who have been sharing accounts to each get their own.

What Do Truck Drivers Think of Netflix Changes?

Jim Kostal, an owner operator at K&J Trucking and a Netflix user said he is frustrated with the changes. "If they go through with this and I have to reverify all the time I will probably cancel my account," Kostal said. 

Kostal noted that he doesn't even remember who the primary account holder is, him or his wife. "I use it on the road and she uses it at our home," Kostal says. "I pay the bill, but I have no idea whose email is on the account. If I had to enter some code I wouldn't know where to look." 

Kostal isn't alone in this. Many drivers use Netflix accounts that they share with an immediate household member at home. And not all truck drivers are equally tech savvy or want to deal with the hassle of verifying their account. They could simply turn to competing streaming services with less stringent user policies. 

How Will Netflix Respond?

What is Netflix going to do about truck drivers and other traveling workers? They have been slow to answer that question. Perhaps because they are busy doing public relations cleanup after the negative response to the information leaked on Tuesday.

While shareholders might applaud Netflix's efforts to stop account sharing, the public has yet to fully weigh in. Hashtags such as #cancelnetflix were at their peak last year when Netflix hiked prices, and it remains to be seen if the same will happen later this year when password sharing changes roll out. 

Netflix has a right to protect their service and prevent fraudulent use. We just hope that truckers and other traveling users aren't forgotten in the process.