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Netflix Is Helping Inactive Users Cancel Their Accounts

By Anders Bylund – May 21, 2020 at 12:41PM

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The media-streaming veteran expects to close "a few hundred thousand" inactive customer accounts.

You may have seen Netflix (NFLX -3.37%) asking if you're still watching, a couple of hours into a streaming binge. Here's a new twist on that familiar pop-up notice: The streaming media giant is about to put the same question to users who aren't watching anything at all. A thumbs-down response will cancel your Netflix account right away, and simply ignoring the notice altogether will lead to the same result.

"Do you ever watch anything?"

"At Netflix, the last thing we want is people paying for something they're not using," Netflix said in a company blog post. "So 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."

Notifications will be sent by email and in-app popup windows next week to paying customers who haven't actually viewed a Netflix video for more than a year. Don't think of it as a unique event, but as the launch of a long-term monitoring idea. Going forward, these "are you watching" messages will go out to users after one and two years of inactivity.

Photo of a red Netflix sign on a beige stucco wall.

Image source: Netflix.

The company made it clear that anybody who loses access this way is welcome to rejoin again, and Netflix will maintain your account settings and viewing history for 10 months just in case you're coming back.

All told, Netflix has "a few hundred thousand" activity prods to send this time, which works out to less than 0.5% of the company's 183 million paying customers, or a couple of million dollars in lost revenue per quarter.

"We've always thought it should be easy to sign up and to cancel," Netflix said. "In the meantime, we hope this new approach saves people some hard-earned cash."

Anders Bylund owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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