Is Streaming Cord-Sharing Next?

Pay TV companies are increasingly worried about password sharing when it comes to streaming apps and platforms of TV networks and other services.

Key question: Should they make logging onto so-called TV Everywhere apps even harder? Maybe. But say goodbye to good consumer experiences. Parks Associates says the TV industry’s losses from password sharing are expected to rise to near $10 billion by 2021 from $3.5 billion this year.

If that doesn’t say much to you, consider this: Tom Rutledge, CEO of Charter Communications, said he knew of one channel owner with 30,000 simultaneous streams from a single account.

Taking about your password sharing! Seems more like a successful crowdsourcing deal. TV and cable network owners would say it’s piracy -- pure and simple.

All this comes as traditional pay TV owners continuing to lose plenty of business due to cord-cutting. Many individual networks see annual subscriber declines from 3% to 3.5% -- due in large part to TV consumers seeking cheaper alternatives, like virtual pay TV providers such as Sling TV, DirecTV, Now, Hulu with Live TV and Playstation Vue.



But we should also include a segment doing other stuff -- “free” stuff like YouTube, advertising-supported video platforms, and yes, password sharing.

TV networks are now looking for consumers to do a bit more work -- re-entering existing or new passwords more often, not just once a year. Some like ESPN are looking to narrow the number of simultaneous streams -- to three or five -- that focus on specific household members.

Plus, the pay industry has been losing business to advertising-free subscription video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. And that becomes more complicated as well: Don’t those services also have password-sharing issues?

According to an HBO spokesman who spoke to Bloomberg, there has been little to no economic impact from “password sharing” for its streaming platforms.

All this stems from initial TV Everywhere efforts a few years ago when, according to analysts, access to sites was cumbersome to begin with -- that is logging into streaming sites with account numbers, correct IDs and password information.

Want to drive more traditional pay TV customers away from new digital platforms of TV networks? Make it even tougher for TV consumers.

Feel free to share this insight.

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