Netflix has now implemented different user profiles for streaming accounts. By doing so, they’re finally acknowledging that users have been sharing accounts. Even if they had been interested in maximizing the number of paid subscriptions, they never really had any mechanism to prevent account sharing.
Before user profiles, sharing a streaming account did impose costs to users. Though users were able to share access to content, their taste profiles and suggestions were irrelevant, and the shared app wasn’t able to keep track of individualized progress for users watching the same shows at different rates. Such inconveniences might have been an incentive to prevent some users from sharing accounts, but not a significant incentive.
Netflix could have tried to squeeze more revenue from users by charging a dollar or two per additional profile, but they’ll profit a different way, by fostering customer loyalty through better user experience. They’ll also be able to more reliably quantify their audience to charge higher prices to advertisers for product placements.