The world’s biggest streaming service is making an unexpectedly customer-friendly move: Netflix announced Thursday that it would begin to deactivate the accounts of users who hadn’t logged in or used the service in a year or more. The company will first ask those users if they want to keep their subscription, and then stop billing them if they don’t hear a reply.
That runs counter to the expected industry standard, which is for these companies to happily charge users for as long as they possibly can, regardless of whether they ever use the service. Those non-participating accounts, in fact, are often considered among the most valuable users, as these “zombie accounts” simply pay each month without placing any stress upon the infrastructure by using the service. To give up that free income is unexpectedly generous on Netflix’s part … or a well-calculated PR movie. Regardless, it seems to be a positive step.
“You know that sinking feeling when you realize you signed up for something but haven’t used it in ages?” the company said in a statement. “At Netflix, the last thing we want is people paying for something they’re not using. In the meantime, we hope this new approach saves people some hard earned cash.”
It’s not like the company has that much to lose—according to Netflix, these “zombie accounts” make up less than .5% of the total user base, so even if every one of them was deactivated it would only be a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. As of March 31, Netflix was maintaining more than 182 million active subscribers, making it the biggest streaming service that has existed to date.
Meanwhile, if someone finally logs in and finds their account has been deactivated, they will be free to rejoin and retain their favorites/profile as long as they do so within 10 months.