Netflix explains why cheaper extra member feature is not available in South Africa

Netflix has explained the reasoning behind South African subscribers not getting the option to add discounted extra members to accounts.

After years of not caring all that much about subscribers sharing their passwords with people outside their households, even joking about it in social media posts, Netflix started clamping down on the practice in 2022.

This was likely because several analysts showed that Netflix was potentially losing out on billions of dollars in revenue every year due to password sharing.

In March 2022, Analysys Mason estimated that the company had lost roughly $1.8 billion in revenue in its European, Middle Eastern, and African markets.

The company began using a combination of elements — including IP addresses, network information, device IDs, and user viewing habits — to establish a “primary” location where the account holder was most likely to be accessing the service.

If it detects that a device away from this location is accessing the service, it sends a notification warning users not to do it.

The notification Netflix sends to devices it deems to be accessing an account away from its primary location

If that user had access to the email account used for the subscription, they could change the primary location to match the correct details or get limited-time tokens to use their account while travelling.

This was initially limited to just a handful of countries in South America. However, the password-sharing crackdown gradually expanded into Netflix’s biggest markets before a global rollout in the middle of 2023.

Of the 190 countries where Netflix is available, roughly 100 got the ability to add an “extra member” under a sub-account at a fraction of the cost of the primary account holder’s subscription.

The secondary user gets their own profile and separate streaming instance in another location than what Netflix has determined to be the primary address.

This feature served to soften the impact on subscribers who shared their accounts with family or close friends who don’t live with them.

South Africa hit with password crackdown — but no extra member options

South Africa was not included in the 100 countries that got the extra member feature.

However, Netflix did start cracking down on password sharing locally last year.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, 20 February 2024, Netflix chief product officer Eunice Kim explained that the company worked with a set of criteria that informed where it would offer paid sharing.

This included whether account sharing was relatively common in the country and whether there would be a large market for paid shared accounts.

In addition, Netflix had to consider whether the pricing model in the market would benefit from introducing a lower-cost option.

Eunice Kim, Netflix chief product officer and former YouTube and Google Play director

In the US, the option to add a sub-account or extra member to a primary Standard or Premium plan is currently $7.99.

That works out to about 52% of the full price of Standard or 35% the price of Premium in the US.

If Netflix were to apply the 52% percentage to South Africa’s Standard subscription price of R159 for the extra member price in South Africa, it would cost R83.

That makes it just R17 cheaper than a Netflix Basic subscription.

Unlike users in the 12 countries that now have the Basic plan with ads as their entry-level option, South African subscribers still get access to an ad-free Basic plan for viewing on TVs at R99 per month.

This price has remained unchanged since Netflix introduced rand-denominated fees in South Africa in August 2018.

Netflix subscribers in Africa, India, and select other smartphone-focused markets have also had an even cheaper mobile-only plan available for R49 per month since June 2021.

Kim said the company was still learning a lot about the market demand for extra member subscriptions.

“We’ve seen a really great uptake of them in many markets around the world, and we are always contemplating whether or not there might be further expansion,” Kim said.

“We are always learning and taking a look at the data and if we see that it would benefit members, [adding the extra member feature] would be something we would consider.”

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Netflix explains why cheaper extra member feature is not available in South Africa