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Streamers Consider Ways to Crack Down On Password Sharing

Fern Siegel

Password sharing is costly.

Streaming providers will lose an estimated $550 million just this year from password sharing, according to an analysis by Parks Associates. It estimates a loss of $12.5 billion over the next five years.

To fight back, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, which includes Netflix, Amazon, Disney, HBO and Comcast, are battling online piracy and password sharing.

Bloomberg reports several tactics are being considered by pay TV, which may be adopted by streaming services. They include customers changing passwords periodically or texting codes to subscribers’ phones to let them keep watching. Other ideas would limit the devices used to access. Phones or tablets might be OK, but a Roku device at a second location would not.

Tom Rutledge, CEO of Charter Communications, lamented during a recent earnings call: “It’s just too easy to get the product without paying for it.”

Cisco Systems offers streaming platforms a program that tracks users’ activity and flags unusual times or locations when someone logs on. Streaming services also try to crack down on password sharing by limiting the number of screens members can use.

Netflix permits one stream for its basic plan and four streams for its priciest service. On an earnings call last month, Netflix Chief Product Officer Greg Peters said it is “looking at the situation” and seeking “consumer-friendly ways to push on the edges of that.” Amazon Prime lets users add a second adult onto their plan, provided they register and agree to share payment methods.

Consumers can also access streaming programming via apps from distributors like Charter and programmers like Fox. Apple TV+ lets up to six people stream from a family plan.

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