As the streaming service wars heat up even more with the arrival of HBO Max, Netflix is actually making a move to save its idle customers some cash. One of the biggest potential pitfalls of signing up for subscription services? Remembering to cancel that subscription when you’re no longer using it. Even as someone who’s very mindful of her spending, I’ve fallen into this trap more times than I’d like to admit. (I swear, I really was planning to learn a new skill on Skillshare at some point!) But rather than continue to keep charging those cards, Netflix is making the unprecedented move to cancel idle users’ subscriptions for them.
According to CNBC, Netflix just announced that the plan is to target “zombie accounts” that haven’t been used in the past year and to ask those customers if they’d like to keep their subscriptions. Starting this week, those individuals will receive notifications via e-mail or in the app regarding their service. If the customer doesn’t respond? Netflix will just take care of the matter for them! Here’s how director of product innovation Eddy Wu put it:
“We’re asking everyone who has not watched anything on Netflix for a year since they joined to confirm they want to keep their membership. And we’ll do the same for anyone who has stopped watching for more than two years.”
As of March 31st, Netflix reported a total of 182 million subscribers and now claims that these inactive accounts only totals a few hundred thousand users, which amounts to less than half of 1% of its total subscribers. Perhaps that isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things, but in a sense, it is a whole bunch of “free money” that the streamer is taking a pass on, a pretty remarkable move given the fact that one might expect a mega corporation like Netflix to gobble up as much profit as possible.
As CNBC suggests, this move could be Netflix’s effort to send the message that they’re looking out for their customers, and such a message might actually be the way to get ahead in the streaming game. Would you rather sign up for a service that guarantees you won’t keep paying after you stop using, even if you forget? Or, would you rather take your chance with a company that could bleed your credit card dry for years because a cancelation slipped your mind? And what better time to put such a policy into practice given the current economic crisis?
It sounds almost too good to be true, right? As much as I’d love to believe that Netflix is doing this out of the goodness of its heart, there are some grimmer takes on the matter. For example, perhaps the company is expecting revenue to drop and this is a move to ease its way into such a loss. Given the fact that Netflix just enjoyed one of its strongest quarters ever and racked up another 16 million subscribes in Q1 this year, it’s tough to imagine the company heading towards any sort of catastrophic trouble. Rather, this move could just be an attempt to level out expectations after having just blown past them. Given the fact that so many are spending significantly more time at home, it’s no surprise that a service like Netflix is booming right now. But of course, one would hope that’s going to change in the near future and when that time does come and the number of new subscribers dips, leveling things out by cutting zombie accounts could be a reasonable way to make that change look less significant.