Cable Sector Likely To Freak Out At New Service That Streamlines Streaming TV Password Sharing

from the you-made-this dept

Streaming video providers like HBO and Netflix have traditionally taken a 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 have similarly viewed password sharing in such a fashion, saying it doesn’t hurt their business. If anything, it results in folks signing up for their own accounts after they get hooked on your product, something you’ll often see with kids who leave home, or leave college and college friends behind.

The traditional cable industry sees things quite differently. Executives at the nation’s second-largest cable company (Spectrum), for example, have called the lax attitudes toward password sharing “insane,” and have frequently (and falsely) claimed that the practice is akin to “piracy.” In response they’ve been trying to build a new coalition tasked with taking aim at what they see as a diabolical menace.

A new service being launched this week should provide some fuel for those endeavors. DoNotPay is a startup that revels in helping consumers take counter-advantage of US corporations’ automated customer service systems, offering users services like a fast-food receipt scanner that will automatically fill out surveys for free food, an automated system for securing refunds for crappy WiFi, or a service that lets you auto-contest parking tickets. Their latest offering is Chrome extension that lets users share their streaming service access without actually sharing your password:

“By installing the startup?s free Chrome extension, you can generate links that other people can use to access your subscriptions. Instead of sharing the actual password, DoNotPay uses cookies to transfer your browsing session to other users? computers, effectively fooling services such as Netflix and Hulu into thinking you?ve just logged in through another Chrome tab. I?ve tried it, and it works as advertised.”

One can already hear the hyperventilation and histrionics coming from the cable sector, who’ll be sure to be write a few legal nastygrams to the company for its latest end-around of automated systems. But the company is simply responding to a growing problem among streaming services we’ve highlighted repeatedly: as companies strive to lock down content into a growing array of exclusivity silos, consumers are finding it harder and harder to find all the content they’re looking for, and afford the number of services needed to do so. As such, they’re more likely than ever to revert to piracy or embrace a service like this one:

“Joshua Browder, DoNotPay?s founder and CEO, says the subscription sharing feature is a response to the proliferation of streaming services that each have their own exclusive content silos.

?It?s ridiculous,? Browder says. ?You shouldn?t have to pay $100 a month just to access what you could get before for much cheaper.?

So while the cable and streaming industry will freak out about this service, they probably won’t spend too much time realizing that they’re the ones responsible for it. To be clear, this isn’t some apocalypse, and, in many ways, streaming has fixed a lot of what’s wrong with the traditional cable sector, delivering greater flexibility at lower cost.

That said, endlessly confusing and ever-shifting licensing agreements, combined with the rise of more than two-dozen streaming exclusivity silos, is still a problem the industry should be paying attention to:

Right now, the industry’s just running to the streaming trough without thinking much of the impact. Eventually however they’ll have to do a better job building more centralized systems with a focus on cost and simplicity, without simply repeating the historical failures of the cable sector.

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Companies: donotpay, hbo, netflix

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DannyB (profile) says:


Netflix got this right in the beginning.

Profiles. The ability to create separate identities for individual family members under a single billing account. That way each family member gets a personal favorites list, and personalized suggestions of junk they should watch to destroy their brain cells.

Hulu and Starz also do this.

Others seem to think that you should have to buy a separate account for each family member.

They are delusional. Kidding themselves. Living in a fantasy world unhinged from the reality of the lives of most subscribers. Most subscribers cannot simply tighten their belt by the austerity of buying one fewer luxury cars this year.

Then the streaming services are surprised when family members share a password and are unhappy about the lack of separate play lists and suggestions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Profiles

Netflix defines the eligibility of viewers as the account owner’s household. Students away in college are considered by most, including the federal government, as still being part of their parents’ household even while living away for college.

Sharing your password with your great aunt Lucy living 3 states away is another story.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Profiles

Sharing your password with your great aunt Lucy living 3 states away is another story.

But what’s Netflix gonna do, sue you for a million dollars? Probably they’ll just tell you to knock it off, maybe use technical means to close some loopholes, and not even cancel your account.

kag (profile) says:


This is a bad idea. All that it will do is cause the companies to lock down content and prevent things like family password sharing. Streaming is not like cable. With cable I had to pay $100/mo even if I only watched one channel. Now I just subscribe to the streaming service that has content that I want to watch, and when I am done with it I move on to another one with good content. Why do you feel that you have to have access to everything for nothing? When people stop paying altogether, then companies will no longer find it worthwhile to create new content. I like it that now there is competition to create content that will make people want to subscribe. With cable, it was a race to the bottom to fill airtime with crap, because you were paying for channels whether you wanted them or not.

ECA (profile) says:

silly aint it..Love hte cartoon

"nation’s second-largest cable company (Spectrum), for example, have called the lax attitudes toward password sharing "insane," and have frequently (and falsely) claimed that the practice is akin to "piracy." "

You would think that Every BIT, of net USE costs them a ton of money..
Iv setup homes to use a computer, 4+ tablets, 3 cellphones, 3 Roku boxes.. Can you see the data amounts for this?? HUGE.
And the parents are just as hooked as the kids, because…….They can watch WHAT they want, and get CHOICES.. FREEEEEE!

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