The popularity of video streaming services has skyrocketed over the past few years.
It’s not uncommon for people subscriber to one or two or more of them and still pay less than they would for the services offered by most of the major cable companies.
On the other side of the coin, some people subscribe 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.
Are you sharing your Netflix password? You’re not alone
New figures from CordCutting.com show that nearly 20% of the users of the major streaming services are mooching logins from subscribers. The site surveyed more than 11,000 people to come up with the following results:
- 15% of Netflix users were moochers
- 16% of Amazon Prime viewers were not subscibers
- 19.2% of Hulu users were using someone else’s login
When it comes to demographics, the overwhelming majority of people who share passwords are young adults.
According to finance news site CNBC.com, 35% of millennials share the passwords to their streaming accounts, while 19% of Gen X subscribers do the same, followed by 13% of Baby Boomers.
To further illustrate the issue with raw numbers, the site says that Hulu is losing around $1.5 billion a year due to password borrowing, according to its recent financial reports.
Piracy or practicality: Is it OK to share your streaming account login?
Many streaming 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 to your friends and family? Here are their official positions (or at least as close to official as we could find) on password sharing:
Here’s what the streaming companies say about password sharing:
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.”
AT&T WatchTV is one of the cheapest live TV streaming services, and they want to keep it that way. That’s why you can only log in on one device at a time. If you try to enter your password info on an additional device while streaming, you’ll get an error message.
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.”
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.”
Philo TV has a liberal policy when it comes to account sharing capabilities. Because a user doesn’t have to enter a “home” account, up to three devices in different locations can stream at the same time. If you try to add a fourth one, the earliest stream will cut off.
PlayStation Vue takes a hard line when it comes to account sharing. The service allows up to five simultaneous streams for each “home device,” but there are restrictions. You can change your home address only three times, according to its FAQ. If you violate that policy, Sony may block your account.
Although Sling TV is compatible with many devices, the company charges for its “multi-stream service,” which allows you to watch more than one screen at a time. How much does it cost? Well, that depends.
If you have the Sling Orange service, (single screen), you can upgrade to Sling Blue, which will let you can watch on up to three screens at one time. You can even do a combination Orange + Blue plan, but you’ll pay more.
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.
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.
As you can see the various streaming services treat the sharing of your account credentials differently. It’s best to know your particular service’s policy and try to honor it.
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