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Sky’s piracy crackdown could soon target an alarming number of users

Sky this week invested in Synamedia, a company that believes that password sharing can, in some cases, be considered a form of piracy.

Trusted Reviews met up with Synamedia at CES 2019 this week, where it has been showcasing ‘Credentials Sharing Insight’ (CSI), a new service that content providers − such as Sky − can use to find out if a customer’s account is being used by more people than it’s supposed to be.

The company says CSI “uses AI, machine learning and behavioural analytics to identify, monitor and analyse credentials sharing activity across consumer accounts”, and “combats the rapid rise in account sharing between friends and families, turning it instead into a new revenue-generating opportunity for operators”.

In added: “Casual credentials sharing is becoming too expensive to ignore. Our new solution gives operators the ability to take action. Many casual users will be happy to pay an additional fee for a premium, shared service with a greater number of concurrent users. It’s a great way to keep honest people honest while benefiting from an incremental revenue stream.”

Synamedia calls password sharing between friends and family members “casual sharing”. It’s a common practice, which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once described as a “positive thing”, largely because he believed that people who did it were likely to become paying subscribers later down the line.

Synamedia says that, by tracking down these “casual” password sharers, CSI gives content providers the chance to convert them into paying customers, by encouraging them to upgrade to a family account, for instance.

However, according to Synamedia, a more harmful form of password sharing also exists. The company says CSI is also designed to help content providers “detect and shut down large-scale, for-profit credential sharing accounts run by fraudsters”.

“We consider this as a type of piracy,” Orly Amsalem, a product manager at Cisco (which used to own Synamedia, then called Service Provider Video Software Solutions), told Trusted Reviews, adding that sports and exclusive TV shows and films are the types of content most popular with password sharers.

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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.

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.

How do you feel about password sharing? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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