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Netflix users who currently enjoy cheeky free access to the TV streaming service could be facing a clampdown.
The company says millions of people who enjoy its top shows like The Queen's Gambit and The Tiger King are doing so using passwords given to them for free by friends.
When people sign up for the service – which currently costs £13.99 for the top package – they can watch programmes on up to four devices. However, the rules say viewers should be from the same household.
But industry experts believe up to 33% of people could be sharing their passwords with other friends and family.
Some users have now been getting messages on the screen saying "If you don't live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching."
This can be ignored a few times, but eventually, access is banned until a code is entered which is sent to the account holder via text or email.
The company is currently testing the system before it decides whether to launch a major crackdown.
Netflix recently reported a surge in new subscribers as people signed up to help beat lockdown boredom and in 2020 it gained almost 37 million new subscribers, taking its total to 200 million around the world.
It also recently reported annual profits of £2 billion.
Netflix has benefitted from the latest TV craze – binge viewing – with analysts saying up to 40 million people in the UK regularly sit down and watch episode after episode of hit series such as Stranger Things and Ozark.
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TV watchdog Ofcom says a third of binge-watching adults admit their habit costs them sleep and leaves them feeling tired.
Coming new to Netflix over the next few days are Audrey, a documentary on film star Audrey Hepburn (March 14), the Disney film BFG (March 15), and Savages, a film starring Blake Lively, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch and John Travolta about drug smuggling (March 16).
Sky Rojo, a new series about three sex workers on the run from their pimp boss (March 19), is also set to air this month.
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