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.

Filed Under: chrome extension, password sharing, streaming, tv
Companies: donotpay, hbo, netflix


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    western (profile), 11 Mar 2020 @ 6:33am

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2020 @ 7:22am

      Re: Visitor Visa Consultants in Pune

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        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Mar 2020 @ 5:23am

        Re: Re: Visitor Visa Consultants in Pune

        "What's next ... an ad for a cruise ?"

        On the Diamond princess, no less. A lot of the tourists are no longer on the tour.

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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 11 Mar 2020 @ 6:39am

    Profiles

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2020 @ 8:07am

      Re: Profiles

      Family members who do not live together sharing their Netflix account are still violating Netflix's terms of service.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2020 @ 8:14am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2020 @ 9:28am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DannyB (profile), 11 Mar 2020 @ 1:38pm

        Re: Re: Profiles

        Profiles will be abused. Get used to it. Profiles might actually limit how much people abuse sharing their service.

        Here is a true fact.

        Fact: you can only squeeze people so hard.

        They only have so much money. No matter how much you think you want.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2020 @ 7:20am

    "The traditional cable industry sees things quite differently."

    Why does the cable industry care if hbo loses money?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 11 Mar 2020 @ 1:39pm

      Re:

      The streaming tv industry can learn something from the cable tv industry.

      People only have so much money to spend. No matter how much of their money that you want, they only have so much to give.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2020 @ 2:24pm

        Re: Re: Astounded by your ignorance DannyB

        And in some other universe (certainly not this one) cable companies believe there is a price ceiling? You use great narcotics....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    kag (profile), 11 Mar 2020 @ 7:28am

    Streaming

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 11 Mar 2020 @ 7:29am

    When I saw this the other day, my first thought was, lawsuit.

    Legal or not, there will be a lawsuit. I hope DoNotPay has some really good lawyers and can afford them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Designerfx (profile), 11 Mar 2020 @ 8:59am

    google already flipped out and removed it

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Code Monkey (profile), 11 Mar 2020 @ 9:53am

    Hulu already broke it....

    If you use Hulu, they are able to check your device's physical location, and will block you if you are outside your zip code.

    Got bit by that one already.....sigh.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 11 Mar 2020 @ 12:07pm

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mrharrysan, 11 Mar 2020 @ 1:47pm

    3 streams

    If my Netflix account allows for 3 simultaneous streams, why should anyone care who I allow to use my password? I still only get my 3 streams, whether they are under one roof or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2020 @ 2:23pm

    Looks like the Chrome extension may not be compatible with the Chrome Extension agreement? https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/donotpay/akemkahcafdlkabpffecbmhngbgpaial appears to have been pulled.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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