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Farewell, Netflix password sharing

I used to watch an unhealthy amount of TV. A minimum of 24 shows per week for the best part of two years, to be precise, when I worked on the Guardian’s TV desk.

As part of the job, I had access to new television series ahead of time and bought subscriptions to all the streaming services. Word soon spread through my friendship groups and family WhatsApps: “Ammar has all the new TV shows.” Passwords soon followed.

Growing up before streaming, when there was typically one telly per household, our viewing habits were common knowledge among those we lived with. My childhood was spent wrestling the remote away from my brother to switch over from Hollyoaks to The Simpsons. As a family, we watched EastEnders together. But now that we so often watch through our laptops and phones, there’s a danger that television becomes an isolated affair, curated through siloed profiles. Oddly, it’s a quirk of the streaming giant Netflix that has allowed us to buck that trend: the ability to share Netflix accounts with people beyond your household. Sharing a password – and, by extension, our viewing habits – with a friend, or family member, or neighbour, has become an unusual form of connection.

Read the opinion piece in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 27/01/23]

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