There is a vast amount of streaming services available to the public. From consumer favorites like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, to more niche selections like CBS All Access and DC Universe, to upcoming industry shakers like Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max. Deciding which ones to subscribe to can be a difficult decision. Do you want Netflix and its weekly bombardment of original content? Disney+ and its massive library of nostalgic franchises? Or perhaps you are most interested in Amazon Prime's more unique programming slate.
For many, these decisions are difficult but necessary. After all, one cannot have every service. However, some don't have to make the tough decision. Instead, they rely on family and friends to provide them with passwords for services they don't subscribe to. So, while they may have a Netflix and CBS All Access account, they can still watch Hulu and Apple TV+ thanks to a generous college roommate.
This all may change soon. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) has announced a working group aimed at reducing unauthorized access to content. While the ACE will tackle various issues related to this topic, they specifically mentioned "improper password sharing" as a top concern and priority.
The ACE is made up of larger studios, such as Disney, Sony, Warner Bros. Netflix and Paramount, as well as smaller ones, inducing Lionsgate, AMC and MGM. Amazon is also a member of the group, along with ISPs Comcast and Charter.
For now, no plans are in motion to stop password sharing altogether. Instead, ACE is working on implementing “best practices" that will prevent account sharing. This includes limiting the number of devices that can simultaneously stream from a single account, something that a few streaming services already do.
A ban on password sharing could impact quite a few customers from a variety of streaming services. According to a July 2019 survey, 14% of Netflix users give their passwords to non-family members, compared to Hulu's 11% and Amazon Prime's 6%.
A move to ban or limit password sharing would be a major 180 for the industry. Five years ago, HBO’s then-CEO Richard Plepler said password sharing had “no impact on the business,” calling it a “terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers.” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was more pessimistic, saying that “Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with.”