Netflix Password Crackdown Drives U.S. Sign-Ups to Highest Levels in at Least Four Years: Researcher

At least initially, Netflix’s broad password crackdown appears to be producing the streamer’s desired results in converting freeloaders into paying customers in the U.S., according to early data from research company Antenna.

On May 23, Netflix began notifying U.S. customers that users on their accounts who live outside their households would need to be added as an “extra member” (or get their own subscriptions). Since then, Netflix has had the four single largest days of U.S. user sign-ups since January 2019, when Antenna first began tracking the metric.

Based on the most current Antenna data available, Netflix average daily sign-ups reached 73,000 from May 25-28, a 102% increase from the prior 60-day average. That was more than the spikes in subscriber sign-ups Antenna recorded during the initial U.S. COVID-19 lockdowns in March and April 2020.

Netflix U.S. cancelations also increased over May 25-28 — a phenomenon the company told investors it expected — but those were less than the number of sign-ups, according to Antenna. The ratio of sign-ups to cancelations since May 23 increased 25.6% compared with the previous 60-day period.

In the U.S., Netflix has told customers they must buy an “extra member” at an additional $7.99/month for anyone who doesn’t live with them that currently uses their account. The streamer has said it will start blocking devices that attempt to access a Netflix account without having legitimate account access.

According to New York-based Antenna, its estimates are based on millions of permission-based, consumer opt-in, raw transaction records, which are sourced “from a variety of data collection partners.” The data includes online purchase receipts, credit, debit and banking data, and “bill-scrape data.”

Amid widespread global economic uncertainty, “our view is that [Netflix] should be able to deliver solid subscriber and financial results by better monetizing the 100M+ households that use NFLX product (via password sharing) but do not (currently) pay for it via higher ARPU and/or conversion to pay subscribers,” Pivotal Research Group analyst Jeffrey Wlodarczak wrote in a note Friday.

SEE ALSO: Netflix Launches Paid Sharing in U.S., Will Start Blocking Users With Unauthorized Passwords

Netflix is “the world’s clearly dominant streaming video player,” according to Wlodarczak, with “strong medium/long term growth that is not properly reflected in the current valuation.” He noted that the company’s recently introduced ad-supported plan, which Netflix said had attracted nearly 5 million subs in the first six months, also should contribute to better results. “Importantly, [Netflix], unlike its streaming peers, has demonstrated massive scale economies which is evidenced by the major ramp in free cash flow in ’22/’23, a trend we expect to continue ‘24+.”

Pivotal Research raised its year-end 2023 target on Netflix’s stock from $425/share to a Wall Street high $535/share, mostly driven by an increase in estimated EBITDA (forecast to grow at a CAGR of 20% through 2027) and to a “lesser extent the effects of increases in our free cash flow expectations in ’23 and beyond.”

Pictured above: Netflix’s “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story”

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