Cable CEO Is Really Pissed That HBO Hasn't Cracked Down On Streaming Password Sharing

from the get-over-it dept

As HBO's streaming service popularity has taken off, the company has yet to crack down on the sharing of passwords, believing it's a great opportunity to have programming junkies market the brand for you. We all of course already knew that sharing HBO Go passwords was a violation of the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA and an unholy sin. But according to Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, the sharing of streaming service passwords is also a diabolical theft of content that needs to stop immediately.

During the cable giant's recent quarterly earnings call, Rutledge decided to rant a bit about the perceived injustice of college students using their parents' passwords, insisting that HBO's leniency on this front showed a complete misundertanding of the market:
"But to Rutledge, companies like HBO show a "complete lack of control and understanding in the space" by letting password sharing continue, and it's something that must be stopped. "The lack of control over the content by content companies and authentication processes has reduced the demand for video because you don’t have to pay for it,” Mr. Rutledge said on the earnings call. “That’s going on in the college market."
But it's Rutledge who appears to have shown his lack of understanding of the market he serves. The CEO assumes that if you crack down on college kids sharing HBO passwords that these kids are magically going to go out and sign up for cable connections. What's more likely to happen should you crack down on the practice is that that these kids (most of whom are on a budget) will turn to cheaper streaming alternatives like Netflix -- or piracy. But in traditional legacy exec thinking, everybody's a criminal, even though Rutledge's company simply refuses to seriously compete on price.

Earlier this year HBO CEO Richard Plepler said the company keeps a close eye on the password sharing stats, and it's not really a significant number of people. Plepler (the guy Rutledge implies doesn't understand the market) a year earlier made it clear he understood the market perfectly well:
"It’s not that we’re unmindful of it, it just has no impact on the business,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler said. It is, in many ways, a “terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers,” he said, noting that it could potentially lead to more subscribers in the future. “We’re in the business of creating addicts,” he said.
So, whereas HBO thinks it's a good idea to turn the other cheek on a statistically insignificant practice to generate brand obsession, Charter (soon to own Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in a $75+ billion merger) thinks it's a better idea to treat college kids like criminals, and in the process, driving them to Netflix and BitTorrent networks.

Filed Under: cable, competition, hbo, password sharing, streaming, tom rutledge
Companies: charter, hbo


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 5 Nov 2015 @ 2:44am

    Ah

    Never mind, re-reading the article, I believe I spotted the 'something significant' that I missed in my original readthrough that explains why Rutledge is making the claims that he is. Rutledge/Charter offers a competing service, and if people can get their entertainment for 'free' from HBO, then they're much less likely to pay Rutledge for the same.

    Thinking long-term works fine for HBO, but if it means that Rutledge is getting less business now, then it makes sense that he'd throw a fit over it. His claims about HBO not 'understanding the market' may not stand up under scrutiny, but his motivation for making those claims at least makes perfect sense.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.