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Netflix debunks talk of limiting simlutaneous movie streams

updated 12:20 pm EDT, Wed September 7, 2011

Netflix says multiple video streams still OK

Netflix hoped to contain a potentially damaging situation Wednesday with a response to a claim that it was limiting Internet video streams. After it accidentally sent out a policy that would have limited the number of streams depending on the plan, the company in a statement quickly said this cap didn't exist. "No Netflix member is limited to less than two" simultaneous streams, communications VP Steve Swasey said.

Any alerts telling users they had to stop one stream to continue another were part of an "error that we are correcting," the executive said.

The apparent move, spotted by StopTheCap over the weekend, would have come just a few days after an effective price hike to $18 for those who wanted both discs and streaming. Alarm bells were also being raised that it was part of a further studio-backed attempt to curb imagined piracy. Tennessee's Republican Governor Bill Haslam recently signed into law a bill that would make it illegal to share a "web entertainment" account with more than one person when not cleared, including Netflix as well as Hulu, Slacker, or other music and video services.

Critics have noted that it's difficult to enforce such laws since it's possible that a pirate could watch a video at a different time than the original owner and never run into the limitation. Accounts can also be hijacked without consent and create problems for someone who intended to follow the rules. Download services such as iTunes don't face this limitation since the files are downloaded and already have a set maximum number of machines to prevent both deliberate and unintentional sharing.

By Electronista Staff


  1. njfuzzy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2001


    Already limited

    They already limit the number of devices you can attach to your account, in a very similar way to iTunes.

  1. bob.A

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2011


    perhaps netflix should read their own terms of use

    "Personal Computer Requirements and Device Limitations: To enjoy watching instantly via your personal computer, your equipment must satisfy certain system requirements. Click here to view the various system requirements. To see partners who offer Netflix ready devices you may use to access our service, click here. YOU MAY INSTANTLY WATCH ON UP TO SIX UNIQUE AUTHORIZED NETFLIX READY DEVICES. YOU WILL BE ALLOWED TO INSTANTLY WATCH SIMULTANEOUSLY ON ONLY ONE SUCH DEVICE AT ANY GIVEN TIME. For certain membership plans in the United States, you may instantly watch simultaneously on more than one Netflix ready device within your household. Click here to view the number of devices on which you may simultaneously view movies & TV shows that are associated with your plan. The number of devices and concurrent streams may change without notice to you. For certain limited membership plans in the United States, your available Netflix ready device may be limited to personal computers."

    Note the ALL CAPS, copied directly from their TOS.

    Now from the link posted in that same TOS:

    Can I watch movies instantly on more than one PC or Netflix-ready device?
    Some membership plans allow you to watch simultaneously on more than one personal computer or Netflix-ready device. If you are on the Unlimited Streaming plan, the Unlimited Streaming + 1 DVD out-at-a-time plan or a limited streaming plan, you may watch only one device at a time.
    If you are on the Unlimited Streaming + 2 DVDs out-at-a-time plan, you may watch on up to two devices at a time. Members on the Unlimited Streaming + 3 DVDs out-at-a-time plan may watch on up to three devices at a time. The maximum is four devices at a time -- available for members on the Unlimited Streaming + 4-or greater DVDs out-at-a-time plan.

    I dunno, but that seems pretty clear to me that there are a number of netflix users restricted to one stream at a time.

    I know mine is, and its been that way for quite awhile now, though, it did not start out that way.

  1. macnnoel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005


    They are essentially shooting their foot

    The advantage of internet based cable service is slowly fading away, as they become more and more like the networks they're should be differentiating themselves from. I was going to subscribe to Netflix, but after reading this article I definitely changed my mind.

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