The popularity of digital video streaming services has skyrocketed over the past few years. It’s not uncommon to be a subscriber to one or two or three of them and still pay less than the bundled services offered by most of the major cable companies.
But on the other side of the coin, it’s also fairly common to be a subscriber to none of them – and still watch the latest movies and TV shows. That’s because a lot of subscribers share the passwords to their streaming services with other people.
In fact, a poll conducted by Reuters last year found that a full one-fifth of young adults shared their streaming service logins.
Piracy or practicality: Is it OK to share your streaming account login?
Many of the services allow simultaneous streaming on multiple devices, which would seem to encourage the sharing of accounts.
So how does your favorite streaming service feel about you passing along your account info with your friends and family? Here are their official positions (or at least as close to official as we could find):
For the record, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in 2016 that sharing logins is par for the course for his streaming service.
“In terms of [password sharing], no plans on making any changes there,” Hastings said, according to CNBC. “Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with, because there’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids …. so there’s no bright line, and we’re doing fine as is.”
Amazon says on its website that its policy on sharing accounts is governed by its Amazon Household feature, which is defined as up to 10 people under one roof. “Amazon Household allows you to share Amazon benefits with another adult, teens, and children in your household,” it says. “Both adults share select Prime Benefits, digital content using Family Library, and can manage the profiles of teens and children in the Household. Teens in the household can share select Prime benefits too.”
Similar to Amazon Prime, Youtube TV defines its sharing plan as a “family group.” The service wants the person who signed up for the account to serve as administrator or “family manager,” with the ability to add up to five people (age 13+) at no additional cost.
Hulu frowns upon sharing logins with people outside your home. On its help center webpage, it says, “Hulu with Live TV is intended for use by a single household, and subscriptions can’t be shared.”
When I contacted DirecTV, who I have service with, they told me that they presently allow two screens to stream simultaneously and that “it can be 2 screens in 2 different addresses, it is not limited to a service address like the traditional dish service.”
HBO is not a fan of unauthorized sharing. On its website, the service makes it clear, “Your sign-in credentials shouldn’t be shared with anyone outside your household. For security reasons, the number of simultaneous streams is limited. If there are too many streams happening at once from your account, you’ll get a simultaneous streams message.”
Of course, there are other streaming services out there, but you get the drift: Many of them don’t mind if you share accounts, some actually enable it and some aren’t enforcing it even if they say it violates their terms of service.