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Netflix will start cancelling inactive customers' subscriptions

Netflix hopes the new approach will save people money.

WASHINGTON — Netflix is going to start terminating accounts for users who haven't used the streaming platform in more than a year. 

The company announced Thursday that it's going to reach out to "inactive" members who haven't watched anything for 12 months since they first subscribed and ask whether they want to keep their membership. Netflix plans to do the same thing for those who haven't watched anything in the past two years overall. 

Netflix members who don't respond will have their subscription automatically cancelled. That way people won't keep paying for a service they aren't using or may have forgot about. A recent study by Nielsen found that nearly half of U.S. viewers subscribe to three or more streaming services and 87% of Americans 65 and older have at least one streaming subscription. 

"We’ve always thought it should be easy to sign up and to cancel," Eddy Wu, who oversees product innovation at Netflix, said in a post. "So, as always, anyone who cancels their account and then rejoins within 10 months will still have their favorites, profiles, viewing preferences and account details just as they left them."

The company explained these inactive accounts represent "less than half of one percent" of its overall membership, which is "only a few hundred thousand."

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Inactive members will start seeing the e-mail or in-app notifications this week. 

Wu added that they hope the new approach will save people money.

Netflix has seen a surge of new users since the coronavirus pandemic began. In the first three months of 2020, the streaming platform added 16 million new global subscribers. The company reported having 183 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter, according to CNBC.