Streaming services to crack down on account sharing

Jeremy Milliner


If you’re one of the 117.6 million Netflix subscribers or one of the 20 million US subscribers to Hulu, there may be a change on the wind – particularly if you’re working with a shared account: Synamedia has just announced a new software called the Credentials Sharing Insight which according to their website “identifies, monitors and analyzes credentials sharing activity across streaming accounts.” What does this mean for the many account holders who share their password with friends for free?

streaming services

Prepare to be flagged and flogged.

Streaming sites crack down on account sharing

The Credentials Sharing Insight

Synamedia announced their new tech on December 17, their goal being to help streaming service providers combat the rise of free account sharing. The software was marketed to streaming sites such as Netflix, HBO, and Hulu and aims to identify instances of fraudulent activity. If such activity is found, it will ask users to upgrade to a premium account that includes sharing. Furthermore, if any passwords are discovered to have been sold for profit, the account will be completely shut down. All at once, the Credentials Sharing Insight offers to transform a chink in the provider’s armor into an opportunity to generate more revenue.

Here’s how it works

The Credentials Sharing Insight uses artificial intelligence to discover and flag any user that appears to be logged in different locations. That information is shared with the provider, and the operator can then apply policies (like the aforementioned premium membership) to any account whose sharing score exceeds a predefined threshold.

Can they tread the line between legal and illegal sharing?
The Credentials Sharing Insight turns account sharing into extra company profit.

The hope is that marketing teams will be able to use this information to find account sharers without harassing customers operating within the parameters of their account.

How many accounts are shared?

At first, most OTT providers didn’t share any concern with casual password sharing. Having more viewers, regardless of whether they’re paying, provides a valuable opportunity to market their product – kind of like a free trial. It widens the net of active users, accrues more viewing data, and allows the provider to better shape their product. After a while, however, the numbers start showing more and more active users who aren’t paying for the service at all.

Maybe not quite like this, but you get the point.
This is how Netflix sees your shared account … sort of.

Providers discovered that this is especially an issue with younger generations of viewers who are accustomed to services such as YouTube, where streaming is largely free.

Netflix Free Download

The 2018 Magid Video Entertainment Survey discovered that 26% of millennials share passwords for video streaming services. Parks Associates predicts that if the trend continues $9.9 billion of pay-tv revenues and $1.2 billion of OTT revenues will be lost to credentials sharing by 2021.

“Casual credentials sharing is becoming too expensive to ignore,” said Synamedia Chief Performance Officer Jean Marc Racine. “Our new solution gives operators the ability to take action.” Whether they actually will is yet to be determined. Don’t be too surprised if warring providers use this as an opportunity to offer competitive premium account services to assert their dominance over the market.

Hulu Download

As for the customers’ response, Racine is confident that most users will oblige and upgrade their account in exchange for improved service. “Many casual users will be happy to pay an additional fee for a premium shared service with a greater number of concurrent users,” he said. “It’s a great way to keep honest people honest while benefiting from an incremental revenue stream.”

Time will tell whether Racine is correct, or if suddenly asking customers to pay extra money for a service they’re already provided will generate massive backlash. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for updates!

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