Video streaming giant Netflix has revealed it is starting to cancel user accounts that have been inactive for a year.
In an effort to ‘help’ users who haven’t been using the service to save their ‘hard earned cash’, Netflix is eliminating unused accounts that are still billing the user.
Emails or app notifications will be sent to users who haven’t watched anything on their account in a year or more than two years, asking if they want to keep subscribing.
Any Netflix user who ignores the message and doesn’t confirm they want to keep using their account will automatically have their subscription cancelled.
The California-based company said the emails, the first of which will be sent out this week, will save money for people who aren’t using the service.
Netflix users are automatically billed per month depending on their chosen price plan, which start at £5.99 and go up to £11.99.
The company confirmed to MailOnline that a user will have two weeks to respond to the email or app notification before their account is cancelled.
Users who haven’t watched anything since they joined – so those who have signed up and then never used the service – will get the notification after just one year.
Meanwhile, subscribers who have been an active member in the past but have stopped using the service will get the notification after two years of inactivity.
‘At Netflix, the last thing we want is people paying for something they’re not using,’ Eddy Wu, director of product innovation at Netflix, said in a 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.
‘We hope this new approach saves people some hard earned cash.’
Wu said that any Netflix user who changes their mind and wants to start up their account again will find it easy to do so.
Anyone who re-joins within 10 months after having their account cancelled will still have their favourites, profiles, viewing preferences and account details ‘just as they left them’.
Netflix only has a few hundred thousand inactive accounts, which in total represent less than half of one percent of its overall member base.
The company revealed last month that it has picked up nearly 16 million global subscribers during the first three months of the year, mostly thanks to an increase in demand for streaming due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Netflix more than doubled the quarterly growth it predicted in January, well before the COVID-19 outbreak began to shut down many major economies.
It was the biggest three-month gain in the 13-year history of Netflix’s streaming service, which started out as a humble DVD postal service.
The numbers – released in late April as part of Netflix´s first-quarter earnings report – support a growing belief that video streaming is likely to thrive despite economic downturns worldwide.
‘Our small contribution to these difficult times is to make home confinement a little more bearable,’ Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said while speaking to investors during a video call at the time.
The golden period in Netflix’s history is likely to continue – the company predicted it will add 7.5 million subscribers from April through June, which is nearly three times more than its average springtime gain of 2.7 million subscribers during the past seven years.
However, the pandemic has had the effect of shutting down production of its homemade and exclusive content, which could affect company gains.
‘We’ve paused most of our productions across the world in response to government lockdowns and guidance from local public health officials,’ Netflix said in a statement last month.
‘No one knows how long it will be until we can safely restart physical production in various countries, and, once we can, what international travel will be possible.’
Netflix, which is the world’s largest subscription streaming service with around 183 million paid subscribers worldwide, has gained some recent competition in the market, however.
The Walt Disney-owned streaming service Disney+ has benefited from being launched in the UK the same day as government lockdown measures began – March 24.
Disney+, which includes classic Disney and Pixar films, Star Wars and the first 30 seasons of the Simpsons (bar one episode), gained 50 million paid subscribers globally five months after its launch in the US.