Netflix hasn’t been opposed to password sharing, and never took an official stance against it, but the company said recently that it’s looking into the matter and at consumer-friendly ways to deal with it. It turns out, Netflix isn’t the only streaming service that wants to curb password sharing, as a coalition of content providers that includes Netflix, HBO, and other cable-industry “titans” are studying ways to change how password sharing works.
A Bloomberg report explains that many ideas are on the table to make it harder to abuse password sharing.
For example, customers may be required to change their passwords periodically, or to enter codes received via texts to keep watching. Other measures may include preventing third-parties from logging in to the same streaming account from a TV-connected device, like a Roku at a second location, while still allowing access to smartphone and tablet apps. The most radical idea is logging into a streaming service using biometrics, such as the owner’s fingerprint.
Moreover, Charter said that its recent distribution deals with Fox and Disney will help them address password sharing, but it’s unclear what those measures are.
The coalition, called Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, includes several well-known members, not just Netflix and HBO: Amazon., Disney, Viacom, Comcast, and Charter are all part of it as well. Initially formed to fight online privacy, the group announced that it’s looking at password sharing next
It’s unclear when the coalition will ever enforce such rules, especially considering that new services like Disney+ and Apple TV+ allow password sharing for up to six members per basic account. Comparatively, Netflix offers support for four simultaneous streams for its most expensive account, with the cheapest membership only supporting a single stream. Bloomberg notes that HBO Max and Peacock aren’t ready to disclose how many simultaneous streams they’ll support. Meanwhile, DirecTV and Comcast support five streams, and ESPN supports three.
Any aggressive campaign to stop people from sharing passwords with friends and family might convince certain segments of users to unsubscribe. Not to mention, there’s no guarantee that young consumers would get a subscription of their own to Netflix or HBO after losing access, the report notes.
The report quotes a Parks Associate estimate that says the pay-TV industry stands to lose $6.6 billion from piracy and password sharing, with the figure set to balloon to $9 billion by 2024.