09/07/2011 10:15 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Netflix Streaming Limit Reportedly Allows Only One Movie At A Time (UPDATE)


In an email to tech website GigaOM, Netflix denied that they were limiting users to one stream-per-account. They wrote:

“No Netflix member is limited to less than two concurrent streams. A few Netflix members have heard differently from us, which is an error that we are correcting.”

Good news for families and friends sharing accounts, if true.


Call up your mom, your dad, your roommates, your neighbors and anyone else you're sharing your Netflix account with. The company is apparently only allowing customers to stream one movie at a time per account.

According to the Internet watchdogs at Stop The Cap, several Netflix users have reported seeing an error message when trying to watch a movie at the same time as someone who shares their account. Here is a screen capture of the horrific error message:

A simple Google search shows that the error message has been showing up as far back as 2009, though Stop The Cap claims that the limit is now being enforced more heavily. Mashable says that the rules only apply to movies: In their tests, they were able to watch two television shows at once, and a movie and a TV show at the same time, but not two movies. (And, as you can see in the screenshot above, the error message does specify to stop playing one "movie").

From the Netflix Help Desk, here are the rules on the number of streams you can watch at once:

Some membership plans allow you to watch simultaneously on more than one personal computer or Netflix-ready device. If you are on the Unlimited Streaming plan, the Unlimited Streaming + 1 DVD out-at-a-time plan or a limited streaming plan, you may watch only one device at a time.
If you are on the Unlimited Streaming + 2 DVDs out-at-a-time plan, you may watch on up to two devices at a time. Members on the Unlimited Streaming + 3 DVDs out-at-a-time plan may watch on up to three devices at a time. The maximum is four devices at a time -- available for members on the Unlimited Streaming + 4-or greater DVDs out-at-a-time plan.

This news on streaming limits comes during a busy week for Netflix. They have started their expansion into 43 Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries, including Brazil and Mexico, hot on the heels of letting Starz walk away from the table on contract renewal negotiations, which means that Netflix will lose about 1,000 Starz movies from its Instant Play streaming library in February 2012.

Netflix has not made any official announcement about these reports of streaming caps; their public relations page is currently non-existent, but when it reappears, we'll reach out for a statement and update here.

If you share your Netflix account with another person or several people, we want to hear from you. Have you noticed Netflix enforcing a streaming limit for movies? Let us know in the comments.