Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Netflix denies crackdown on concurrent streams, says it was a glitch

12

September

netflix-logo.jpgLast week I told you about a possible crackdown by Netflix on the ability to concurrently stream content from your account. Many tech sites reported it after users began seeing error messages telling them they could not stream because their account was already in use. I tested this with my account and confirmed the same. Earlier last week we had two movies and one TV show playing at the same time, and when the reports came in we could only play a video on one device at a time. Using that evidence and review of the Netflix policy on the topic (see below), it seemed completely plausible that it was just Netflix enforcing their own rules.

"YOU MAY INSTANTLY WATCH ON UP TO SIX UNIQUE AUTHORIZED NETFLIX READY DEVICES. YOU WILL BE ALLOWED TO INSTANTLY WATCH SIMULTANEOUSLY ON ONLY ONE SUCH DEVICE AT ANY GIVEN TIME. For certain membership plans in the United States, you may instantly watch simultaneously on more than one Netflix ready device within your household. Click here to view the number of devices on which you may simultaneously view movies & TV shows that are associated with your plan. The number of devices and concurrent streams may change without notice to you. For certain limited membership plans in the United States, your available Netflix ready device may be limited to personal computers."

This morning I was contacted by Richard Lawler, Senior HD Editor at Engadget, after he saw a printed version of my post in the St. Petersburg Times. In a post last week (Sept. 7) he had explained that Netflix was not cracking down but rather there was a glitch in their system generating the error messages. He was in touch with Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey who said (quoting a paraphrase from Lawler's post) "no Netflix member is limited to less than two streams at once."

img_0542.pngSo in the interest of fairness and accuracy, I just tested it again. First I logged into Netflix on my MacBook Pro and made sure the queue was clear, with no videos in pause mode. I started a movie on the MacBook then hit play on another on my iPhone. That generated the error message you see here, same as before. When I quit the movie on the MacBook the movie would play on the iPhone. When I quit the movie on my iPhone I could play one on my iPad. One device at a time.

I decided to check my account preferences to see which devices were registered to the account. Oddly enough, no devices are listed there. So even though we're able to watch videos on multiple devices (one at a time now) in the Gadget Guy household, something is clearly amiss. So at this point I'm planning to call Netflix for some clarity on this issue and also to see if what I'm experiencing is specific to my account. I'll let you know what I find out.

If anyone out there would like to do a similar test with their Netflix account, please do so and report back.

[Last modified: Monday, September 12, 2011 1:26pm]

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