In late August, thousands of Netflix users across Latin America found they had been logged out of their accounts on their smart TVs. After logging back in, those subscribers were prompted to pay an additional fee.The previous month, Netflix had announced that it was piloting a password crackdown in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic — the second phase in a wider rollout.
In this latest pilot, as long as a subscriber uses Netflix at the account holder’s “home” — the physical location where the account is registered — they won’t see additional charges. But any long-term use outside that location will require them to purchase an account for an additional location.
The announcement of this latest pricing experiment triggered a wave of criticism, most notably among users in Argentina — the fourth-largest market for Netflix globally, behind only the U.S., Canada, and Australia, with more than 4.5 million subscribers as of 2020. Argentine users took to the internet more vociferously than any other country, as anti-Netflix memes, hashtags, and posts went viral across social media. Many threatened to leave Netflix en masse by popularizing the hashtag #ChauNetflix (#ByeNetflix), a riff on the platform’s local #CheNetflix promotional campaign on Twitter.
Rest of World found little evidence that the protests triggered mass unsubscription from Netflix in Argentina. However, the country’s long-term economic issues may be what ultimately put the streaming platform’s subscriber numbers in jeopardy.
Joaquín Serpe, a member of the Global Emergent Media Lab, told Rest of World that since subscriptions are priced in U.S. dollars, their cost effectively rises as the Argentine peso loses value. Additionally, Argentine consumers are up against monthly caps on the U.S. dollars they can save and credit card limits on the spending of foreign currency, making Argentines particularly sensitive to price hikes. “It’s a situation in which people are feeling all sorts of economic precarity — even people that are in the educated middle class,” Serpe said.