Netflix password-sharers can rest easy… for now

Netflix password-sharers, you can rest easy for now. The streaming giant has revealed that it is looking at ways to clamp down on the practice, but has “no big plans” to announce yet.

Password-sharing is a common practice. It allows several people to piggyback on a single account for a pay service − and everyone involved gets to save money. Everyone but the company, of course.

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People share passwords for all sorts of services, but Netflix’s stance on the matter has raised eyebrows in the past.

Back in 2016, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings described password-sharing as a “positive thing”, because he believed that people who did it were likely to become paying subscribers later down the line. Three years later, the company’s attitude to the practice is now slightly less laid-back.

“How do you address [password-sharing] without alienating a certain portion of your user base? How do you strike a balance there?” Netflix’s chief product officer, Greg Peters, was asked when the streaming company’s Q3 2019 earnings were revealed last week.

“I think we’ll continue to monitor it, so we’re looking at the situation,” Peters responded.

“And we’ll see, again, those consumer-friendly ways to push on the edges of that. But … we’ve got no big plans to announce at this point in time, in terms of doing something differently there.”

Sighs of relief all round, then. But don’t be surprised to see Netflix attempt to tighten things up in the not too distant future.

Earlier this year, I spoke to Synamedia, a company that has created a tool called ‘Credentials Sharing Insight’, which is designed to help content providers work out if a customer’s account is being used by more people than it’s supposed to be.

“Casual credentials sharing is becoming too expensive to ignore,” the company said at the time.

According to Synamedia, password sharing has always been a “concern” for content providers, but many of them initially let the practice slide because it also happens to be a really quick and easy way to gain a large following.

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However, once a content provider has become established, what they once saw as the upside of password sharing instead becomes a barrier to making more money.

Disney Plus is taking a far more aggressive approach to password-sharing. In August, Disney revealed that it was joining forces with US cable giant Charter, in order to clamp down on it.

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