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Vancouver hospital patient loses Netflix access due to password crackdown (ctvnews.ca)
72 points by perihelions on Feb 18, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 66 comments

It’s tempting to discuss this as an edge case, but the point is that netflix has a massive customer base and people’s personal circumstances are messy and don’t fit into the clean model that this location crackdown demands.

Alan Bennett in Dinner at Noon wrote “Every family has a secret, and the secret is that it's not like other families”[1]. This policy makes no allowances for anything but the most vanilla arrangements.

Homes where the parents separate, so the kids spend time at each parent? Wow, sucks that your parents got divorced now also no netflix for you!

What about people who spend long periods on contract working etc - Oh you have to be on an oil rig/cruise ship/construction site/etc for a few months? Boring as all hell to be away from home and also either you or your family have to do without netflix.

Have a health problem and have to spend time in hospital? At least you have netflix to console you… just kidding, no you don’t!

Etc etc etc

Netflix monetized the long tail of people and now are trying to enforce a policy that only works for people who lead super-generic lives.

[1] https://libquotes.com/alan-bennett/quote/lbb1f9r

I certainly sympathize with this patient, but at the same time I'm not a fan of the news media's quest to find some of the biggest outliers possible (preferably one that includes an incredibly sympathetic, tear-jerking protagonist) to somehow use that as an example of "Big Company Being Mean".

It reminds me of a bunch of articles recently that were like "Pregnant mom laid off from company!" I mean, when a company lays off thousands of people, of course you'd expect there to be at least one pregnant woman in the mix. Or was the article somehow arguing pregnant women should be immune from layoffs?

To be clear, I'm not commenting one way or another on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Netflix's new password sharing policy. Just saying that finding these types of cases doesn't make me change my opinion one way or the other in how I think about the issue.

> at the same time I'm not a fan of the news media's quest to find some of the biggest outliers possible

I don't consider being in the hospital wanting to watch Netflix to actually be that much of an outlier. It's pretty common and I know for certain that I'd want to do it (along with many many others) if I were in that situation.

Being in the hospital for 5 months straight, without ever having the capability to have your device synced with your home wifi, certainly is.

in germany, when doing layoffs, plans need to be submitted and in most cases when it exceeds a certain %, the company must rank people from most to least vulnerable, so pregnant women, people with dependents and older employees are not the first to get the boot

I thought in most countries of Europe laying off pregnant employees was just not possible. It's the case in France ah least.

I believe trick in Germany is to formally tell them you are pregnant before they try to fire you / pass over you for promotions etc.

Tell them too early and you risk discrimination, tell them too late and you risk missing out on legal protection.

It seems like that would lead to Schrödinger’s womb. You could always have a “miscarriage” after.

It's not based on whatever the employee says, we have doctors and certificates. That's also how the employer knows there have to give maternal leave, etc.

The trick is in not linking healthcare coverage to employment.

While the goal sounds admirable, it seems like it would inevitably mean discriminating against young, child-free employees.

The ones most likely to find a new job quickly, yes.

Unless they rush to have "safety" kids first, that is.

Didn’t work for Elizabeth Holmes. But maybe encouraging pro-natalism isn’t such a bad thing.

Also usually the ones doing most of the work in a company and have the most flexible schedule.

Germany is very unfavourable for (young) childless professionals. We see a massive brain drain of highly educated Germans to Switzerland.

Huh, turns out even Germany has little confidence in their own state run social welfare systems. Makes sense I guess.

Or looked at from a different angle, Germany cares about its population enough to want to try to protect people in multiple ways rather than with a single point of failure.

> Or looked at from a different angle,

That's the same way of looking at it.

> Germany cares about its population enough to want to try to protect people in multiple ways rather than with a single point of failure.

Indeed, you're getting to the root cause of why the hallmark of government enterprise is incompetence, corruption, and inefficiency.

But isn't a valid argument against Netflix's policy that there are a huge number of edge cases, which their previously policy automatically handled. Now they are trying to enumerate the good edge cases, which is bound to go poorly at first, and is thus a bad policy.

The media has one job: to define the Overton Window. You do that by reporting outliers.

It's a feature, not a bug.

<rant> Maybe the underlying theme of the story is that every tech monstrosity needs a real, live customer service department that contains real, live human beings who have the real, live time & motivation to address the needs of outlying cases. HN has had plenty of stories about people getting screwed over by robo-algorithms at tech monstrosities X, Y, and Z, and coming here to shout into the darkness, hoping that some HN reader can assist, because the tech monstrosity is just a mindless capitalist construct running on autopilot, vacuuming up revenue. </rant>

We are all AI, receptive to specific prompts.

I had a Netflix account for a long time and eventually cancelled after I realised I spent more time surfing the menus than watching anything.

Conversely, I watch YouTube all the time and somehow have not spent the money to get rid of ads.

The other service I pay for is Britbox - good value.

For movies, I just order the DVD from eBay - it costs or 4 bucks and arrives in a day or two.

I felt the same way when I had it. Netflixs engineering blogs were always really well documented, I wonder why their search was always so bad. Does anyone have an idea?

Also this made me wonder how many people on HN don't actively use an ad blocker. Is there a reason why you don't use one?

Netflix had a hack day and one guy made a really cool and simple keyboard shaped in a circle with the cursor in the middle. Every letter was one joystick movement from the center. They buried it. That and other UI blunders convinced me the difficulty searching for things is by design so you give up and watch their absolute shit piles of "original" content where the title and thumbnail tell the entire story.

I pay for OK Google mainly so it will play Youtube library music tracks. It also includes no ads and some sort of payment for content creators.

It's a way to hide the lack of content, especially if they lack whatever it is that you're searching for. They're hoping that you'll settle with their catalog, anyway.

It's hard to run an adblocker on my Tivo where I watch most of my youtube videos.

SmartTube Next?

>> Also this made me wonder how many people on HN don't actively use an ad blocker. Is there a reason why you don't use one?

I’d rather pay.

there was a recent comment thread on why recommendations are so bad and the most likely reason seem to be product placement and other monetary considerations.

>I spent more time surfing the menus than watching anything.


Oh lord.

The value I get from YouTube Premium is enormous compared to the other streaming services I pay for. I’ve been paying for YouTube for a long time, since it was released as YouTube Red (in 2015, I believe?). Whenever I happen to see someone watch a YouTube video with ads I just can’t imagine how they can tolerate it.

I just whip out my phone to check socials. Probably a bad habit TBH. But I always let < 2 minute ads roll to support the creator.

I cancelled Netflix as soon as that password sharing stuff was announced even though they backpedalled in most countries. So I’ve been thinking about getting YouTube Premium. The offline feature would actually be quite useful to me as I’m often without signal.

Not to mention being able to listen to videos. I can’t imagine losing that feature…

I wish Netflix would integrate IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings and allow you to filter.

JustWatch is a good standalone mobile app that can do this.

Thanks for the pointer. Downloaded it.

But it shows only IMDB ratings; that is good, but I was hoping for both IMDB & Rotten Tomatoes.

I pay for YouTube. Definitely worth it.

I had a family plan... 25$ cad monthly.

Seems alot. Just canceled last week

I know, it’s pretty ridiculous compared to other streaming services! It’s $23/mo for two people. Which is more expensive than practically everything else out there. That’s the same cost as the Apple One family plan, which includes cloud storage and games! (And if you get YouTube premium with the Apple tax, it’s $30/mo…)

And here are some other plans which support multiple people:

- HBO Max is $16

- Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ together is $20

- Netflix is $16

- Amazon Prime (huge list of benefits) is $15

This is the main reason I don’t have it. As streaming / bundle services go, its value add is pretty small. If it included cloud storage, maybe. I don’t get how google one doesn’t include it.

Yes, but I watch YouTube more than all the others combined.

This move was what I needed to finally join a plex share. Now I have access to way more content, more simultaneous streams at once, and higher quality streams for the same cost.

As much as I disagree with the Netflix crackdown, especially after their own marketing tweets (https://twitter.com/netflix/status/840276073040371712), the "hospital patient" clickbait is a bit much, and this article is not adding much for discussion that hasn't already happened on HN.

> the "hospital patient" clickbait is a bit much

Why is it too much? It's a scenario I personally hadn't considered about the password sharing crackdown (I don't travel a ton, so the 7-day window seems...aggravating, but not something that would be a huge issue for me; although I write this I'm realizing I'm in the middle of unanticipated travel that would run afoul of their rules).

Being hospitalized is a scenario in which I would absolutely want to have digital entertainment (obviously, depending on the reason I'm hospitalized). If I paid for Netflix, and got locked out when I needed it the most I would be absolutely livid.

I think, as a customer, it's helpful to know the scenarios that Netflix will kick me to the curb. I hadn't thought about this specific scenario, but it seems hugely problematic to me.

Honestly, this article (and realizing that my current trip would also be disallowed by their rules) makes me realize than when Netflix brings these rules to the US, I'm just going to cancel my subscription, and make sure I have better alternative arrangements when for when I may want them.

I’m curious if they tried reaching out to support. Netflix support was pretty good last time I had to use it.

Definitely something worth a try if you’re in their position, but as a customer (or prospective customer) I usually pretend the “support backstop” doesn’t exist, because it’s something that so easily changes.

It’s kind of like relying on AWS support to waive charges for accidental billing. It’s great that they often do it, but it’s not something I want to rely on. If I make a mistake and need it, I’ll definitely reach out and ask, but… I want to avoid needing to ask.

Here, I’m going to make my purchase decision based on their policies, and the impact of those policies. If I decide to pay for Netflix, and support provides a better experience than I was planning on that’s great.

Just create a tailscale network and make one of the home devices as the exit node. Its free for upto 20 devices.

Most routers have the ability to act as a VPN server . That's another good tip as well

I've never tried that. Thanks for the tip

Bye netflix. Some of us have to travel.

Some do not want to be tracked.

The story here, from a technical and management perspective, is the incremental cost, in both engineering resources and company PR image, of handling edge cases.

* Are 'edge cases' < 1% or are they ~ 20% (say) of usage.

* Is there a significant downside to ignoring the tricky stuff.


The thing is, these aren't edge cases, Netflix's requirements are just extremely stupid. Refusing to sell your service to someone who does not live in one household is moronic.


Sounds like Netflix needs a "Falsehoods programmers believe about families" list.

Trying to shove societal concepts into SQL tables never ends well.

> Sounds like Netflix needs a "Falsehoods programmers believe about families" list.

These are not decisions by programers. These are business decisions.

They are trying to find a way to part as many people with as much money as possible but not more. If they err in one direction they leave money on the table, if they err in the other direction they start losing subscribers.

that article comes up with weird ideas about the definition of a household. a household is one building, maybe everyone sharing the same kitchen. anyone who does not live at that location, even temporary, is not part of that household. this does not only apply to netflix, but also to my taxes and benefits.

a german public tv license is per household too and would not include the hospital patient either. and of course, they get plenty of complaints about edgecases as well.

if netflix wanted to sell to families, they could do that by somehow letting you specify who the familymember is, and how they relate to you and limiting it to a number of people.

They talk about households not families. So two friends living together will be no problem for them

If they have used resources to block password sharing by checking and comparing location , devices and network the resources and cost for this edge case must me a high enough percentage.

Else they should just be ignoring password sharing as a concern altogether rather than causing negative press.

The number is 100 million accounts that they are blaming for stalled subscriber growth[1]. That is 100m out of 231m total subscribers[2]. So they are going to war with 43% of their existing subscriber base. That said, they have backed down on rolling this policy out in the US meaning the number of actual password sharers they are going to potentially monetize is very small relative to the ongoing damage they are doing to their brand. I don’t even share my netflix password but am currently actively looking at alternatives as a result of this policy because it just seems scummy enough to motivate me to move. Especially when password sharing was something they used to actively encourage as a means of growing their active users[3]

It’s always an interesting moment when a company stalls out on organic growth and decides its strategy should be to start to blackmail existing customers and try to grow revenue that way. This is how you get to a situation where enterprise IT leaders live in fear of being audited by Oracle and actively seek to replace what was once a key part of their IT strategy just because the vendor is so aggressive about leaping on any license infringement however unintentional.

[1] https://variety.com/2022/digital/news/netflix-sharing-passwo...

[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/250934/quarterly-number-...

[3] https://www.nme.com/news/tv/netflix-ridiculed-over-resurface...

I’m starting to feel like a mug for not sharing streaming service passwords with people over the last few years.

To be honest I probably wouldn’t trust people not to mess my recommendations up!

> To be honest I probably wouldn’t trust people not to mess my recommendations up!

I thought there were user profiles inside the account specifically so different people don't trample each other like that?

You have to trust they won’t use your profile.

I guess? I'll grant that you shouldn't share an account with people who might intentionally mess up your profile, but that seems like an edge case.


> "The amount is not huge, but the principle is because I don't feel the policy is well written or they didn't take in all the additional circumstances,"

if a hospital transplant patient recognizes that and subscribes, then I'm buying calls

because otherwise, this is not news

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