Netflix said it is reaching out to its “few hundred thousand” inactive account holders and proactively asking them if they want to cancel their account. And it’s going even further, cancelling accounts for those who don’t respond.
“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,” said Netflix product innovation chief Eddy Wu, in a company blog post.
“And we’ll do the same for anyone who has stopped watching for more than two years," Wu added. “Members will start seeing these emails or in app notifications this week. If they don’t confirm that they want to keep subscribing, we’ll automatically cancel their subscription. If anyone changes their mind later, it’s really easy to restart Netflix. These inactive accounts represent less than half of one percent of our overall member base, only a few hundred thousand, and are already factored into our financial guidance.”
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Netflix maintains profile data for cancelled accounts for 10 months, so any customer signing back up within that time frame won’t lose it.
With Netflix adding 16 million users in a first quarter that culminated with record streaming usage amid the pandemic, exposing itself to what appears to be a limited amount of churn might be chocked up by some as a PR stunt.
But the policy does go against a subscription industry norm that suggests to services that they don’t disturb dormant customers.
Speaking at a Parks Associates streaming video conference in Los Angeles in December, Marty Roberts, co-founder CEO of consultancy Wicket Labs, said he advises clients to tread quietly around users who might have forgot they’re paying a monthly bill for video service.
“There’s a causal relationship between inactive customers and churn after six months,” Roberts said. “The worst thing you can do is talk to those customers.”
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