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Survey: More than 1 in 4 Streaming Accounts Are Shared

Brandon Allen, Ben Bowman

Sharing your Netflix password is a big step in any relationship. It’s one step removed from letting someone else drive your car. The password sharing thing is also, well, wrong. But plenty of folks don’t seem to mind.

The Leichtman Research Group conducted a survey of more than 6,000 adults and found that service sharing is pretty common. An estimated 27% of streaming services are used in more than one household. That number is split pretty evenly between the people who pay and share (13%) and those who freeload (12%). Another 2% of those shared accounts are paid for by some sort of cost-sharing arrangement, so those folks get partial credit for chipping in something.

Still, most of you are following the rules. The survey shows 69% of you pay for your own streaming services without sharing.

Chances are, you know someone who’s freeloading, however. The survey found 16% of homes have at least one streaming service that is fully paid for by someone else. That’s more likely if you’re young. More than one in four adults 18-34 are freeloading, compared to 12% of those over 35.

Given the popularity of password sharing, streamers are working to crack down on the practice. Netflix made worldwide headlines when they announced last month that they are coming up with new ways to sniff out account sharing. Although Netflix has roughly 200 million subscribers, if we apply this survey to that number, that’s another 24 million who might be getting a free ride. Imagine how many more movies Netflix could bankroll with that money.

The survey did find live TV streaming account sharing is slightly less common, with 20% of those services being shared outside the home. And it does seem that we’re becoming more fond of our live TV streamers. In 2018, 27% of us were planning to drop our provider within six months. Today, that number is just 13%.

Streaming services find themselves in a tricky spot with the practice. Crack down too hard, and they risk alienating subscribers. Be too lax, and they lose revenue they’ve earned. Perhaps it’s time to revive this PSA from the mid-90s:

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