Charter Spectrum's CEO Continues To Whine About Streaming Password Sharing
from the get-off-my-damn-lawn dept
For years now, streaming video providers like HBO and Netflix have taken a relatively-lax approach to password sharing. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has gone so far as to say he “loves” password sharing, and sees it as little more than free advertising. Execs at HBO (at least before the AT&T acquisition), have similarly viewed password sharing in such a fashion, arguing that young users in particular that share their parents password get hooked on a particular product via password sharing, then become full subscribers down the road once they actually have disposable income.
On the other side of the equation sits Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, one of the highest paid execs in media. He, in contrast, has long complained that he views password sharing as “piracy”, and has consistently promised to crack down on the practice. Rutledge and his fellow executives gave a particularly rousing “get off my lawn” lecture at a media event last year:
“There?s lots of extra streams, there?s lots of extra passwords, there?s lots of people who could get free service,? Rutledge said at an industry conference this month…?It?s piracy,? Connolly said. ?It?s people consuming something they haven?t paid for. The more the practice is viewed with a shrug, the more it creates a dynamic where people believe it?s acceptable. And it?s not.”
Of course it’s far from “piracy” if it’s being sanctioned by the companies doing it, with an eye on generating product awareness and happy customers. That last bit is something Rutledge could use some lessons on. Rutledge fixates on password sharing when he should be focused on why exactly his company continues to bleed subscribers to these cheaper, more flexible traditional cable alternatives. Hint: endless rate hikes, historically terrible customer service, and megamergers
Last week Rutledge was at it again. During his company’s latest earnings call, Rutledge proclaimed that streaming providers like HBO and Netflix clearly “don’t know what they’re doing” because they’ve refused to crack down on the villainous practice of password sharing:
“By the content companies going over the top without having the experience of being distributors, they?ve done that in a way without securing their content, which any distributor would theoretically do if they knew what they were doing. But that hasn?t been the case, so you have free service all over the country through passwords,? Rutledge said. ?The reality is television can be had fairly easy without paying for it.”
Granted just because television can sometimes be “had fairly easy without paying for it” doesn’t mean it’s bad, or it’s “piracy.” Millions of users increasingly are flocking to over the air antennas as an alternative to the bloated, expensive cable bundles execs like Rutledge simply can’t move on from. It’s worth noting that this is a “problem” that really isn’t. Most streaming services already limit simultaneous streams per account, and being able to share your password with a limited set of friends and family members is part of the value equation you’re paying for.
It’s also worth noting that when HBO or Netflix execs acknowledge the trend, they note there really aren’t all that many users actually doing it. As such, if there’s something Rutledge wants to spend several years hyperventilating over, it should probably be his company’s continued failure to actually listen to consumers, and offer a better product with support that isn’t ranked among the worst of any company, in any industry in America.