AI to end password sharing?

Helen Aguilar
January 12, 2019

Here's bad news for people who share their Netflix and other streaming service accounts: a new software could crack down on users who share passwords with others.

If adopted, it could be the latest in a change to the way streaming services clamp down on users gaming the system.

However British firm Synamedia's new Credentials Sharing Insight, exhibited at CES 2019, aims to "combat the rapid rise in account sharing between friends and families". The internet consumer protection group Electronic Frontier Foundation has pushed for laws to protect password sharing.

Parks Associates predicts that almost $10 billion of pay-TV revenues and $1.2 billion of revenue from subscription-based streaming services will soon be lost to credential sharing each year. But if it's something a bit more harmless, like sharing a password with family members, the platform may send an email suggesting the customer upgrade to a premium account.

The AI system looks for potential fraudulent activities by using machine learning and behavioral analytics to better understand account activities. Netflix allows its members to set up to five profiles on each account and limits usage of devices that can access Netflix at the same time by plans. The software can determine if users are watching video at their home or if they've shared it with someone outside the home. For example, it will notice if two different households are clearly unrelated, such as different tastes and geographical location, yet are still sharing a password.

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"Casual credentials sharing is becoming too expensive to ignore", Synamedia's Jean Marc Racine said in a statement last month. In an interview with Variety, Synamedia's CEO said, "The way you secure OTT is evolving". Our new solution gives operators the ability to take action.

Normal streaming provider accounts when shared, bring down the individual subscriber fees and hence users have to pay substantially less to watch say a Netflix original. As an estimate, there's expected to be a loss of 1.2 billion dollars by 2021 due to credentials sharing.

Streaming services such as Netflix are able to pay for access to Synamedia's initiative that will grant them the data in question.

Synamedia says its AI has already begun trials.

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