Netflix (NFLX 1.04%) is no longer chill with subscribers sharing their account passwords. The leading premium streaming video service is notifying Stateside members that it's starting to crack down on different residences using the same account. 

This isn't a surprise. Netflix revealed last year that nearly half of its subscriptions were being shared with family and friends outside of the membership household. It started the monetization process in three Latin American markets last year, giving subscribers the ability to either pay more for sharing with others outside of the home or transfer the external user's profile to create a new account. Canada became the fourth market to follow suit earlier this year. 

It's a big move for Netflix. The brand could take a hit in the monetization process, but it's hard to see shareholders complaining. It's not personal; it's business. And with roughly 100 million Netflix accounts worldwide reportedly sharing access outside of their homesteads, there is more money to be made than lost in the move.

Sharing with the rest of the class 

Netflix stock moved higher on Wednesday as U.S. members were emailed about the crackdown. Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein bumped his price target on the shares from $415 to $450, encouraged by Oppenheimer's own survey showing that many current Netflix subscribers were willing to pay for sharing. The survey also found that some users who would be cut loose in the process were open to paying for their own subscriptions. 

Of course, there's no shortage of folks complaining on social media about the move. It's just a hunch here, but many of those are probably the "remote" users that were borrowing the login of a friend or family member. No one likes to start paying for something they were getting for free. 

What does Netflix have to lose here? It had 74.4 million accounts in the U.S. and Canada, a smidgen less than the 74.6 million it was serving a year ago and flat with the 74.4 million subscribers it had in the region two years ago. The platform's North American audience has plateaued, and 30 million of us are reportedly guilty of being generous with our account passwords.  

Someone curled up on a couch while channel surfing.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's worth noting that Netflix didn't roll out its new monetization efforts until it had introduced a cheaper ad-supported tier late last year. Someone willing to put up with a small number of ads can hop on the platform for just $6.99 a month. The cherry on top is that Netflix seemed to suggest last month that it was generating enough revenue through its marketing missives on that plan to cover the $8.50 price gap between that and the $15.49-a-month standard ad-free plan.

In short, there has never been a better time for Netflix to push account sharers to the cheaper -- but just as lucrative -- $6.99-a-month plan. 

The timing is also ideal. The company's largest rival is a media giant committed to shaving its content costs by $3 billion a year and raising prices on its ad-free plan later this year. Another major rival rebranded its platform this week, something that doesn't happen when things are going well. Most platforms outside of Netflix are losing a lot of money in this space. 

It won't take long for investors to see if the gamble will pay off for Netflix. The subscriber count in North America has been stagnant since the pandemic began. This move should shake things up one way or the other. Average revenue per user will also be on the move. 

This could all backfire, of course. Subscribers can bolt. Advertisers might find the platform less attractive if the audience and engagement levels drift lower. A global economic slowdown might test the resolve of how much people can pay the service.

But you still don't bet against the leading streaming services stock. It has more info and data on its user base than anyone else. It knows what it's doing, and it has a history of being humble enough to reverse course in the rare instance when it's wrong. Qwikster had the lifespan of a mayfly. Something tells me that the new password-sharing monetization efforts will last longer than that.