The CEO of Netflix Says It’s Okay to Share Your Account

January 11, 2016, 8:10 PM UTC
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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 06: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings delivers a keynote address at CES 2016 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Photograph by Ethan Miller — Getty Images

Rules about account sharing are pretty vague, so Netflix CEO Reed Hastings shared his thoughts about the common practice at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show.

In a press conference at the annual CES, Hastings said that sharing Netflix (NFLX), whether it’s with “two people on a couch or 10 people on a couch,” is a good thing. As for sharing your password with someone, he only addressed those who share it with family members. “As kids move on in their life, they like to have control, and as they have an income, we see them separately subscribe,” Hastings told a reporter at the event, adding that “It really hasn’t been a problem.”

A Consumer Reports survey from last year shows that 46% of adults in the U.S. with a subscription to a media streaming service share their accounts with non-family members, something Hastings did not discuss.

However, it’s tough to imagine that he’s unaware of it. It’s more likely that Hastings simply doesn’t care all that much. Netflix’s main CES announcement was that it’s expanding its service into 130 new countries, meaning that it’s now available in a total of 190 countries. Considering how much more room the company has to grow, account sharing likely isn’t the CEO’s top priority.

Hastings’ views about sharing Netflix with others (be it on a couch or otherwise) echo those of HBO CEO Robert Plepler. At a Buzzfeed-sponsored event in 2014, Plepler compared HBO’s business model to that of a drug dealer—you need to give customers a free taste in order to get them hooked. He said that sharing accounts doesn’t hurt the company and, if anything, it’s actually a great marketing tool.

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