If you’re using someone else’s Netflix password, you’re not alone.
A new report from Parks Associates, a Dallas-based market research firm, found that more than 10% of households in the U.S. that have a broadband connection and watch a subscription streaming service like Netflix or Hulu Plus use an account that someone outside of the house is paying for.
The firm found that 11% of people who use Netflix, 10% who stream Hulu Plus, and 5% who use Amazon Prime Instant Video use someone else’s account information to access the services.
Not surprisingly, Parks Associates found that younger people share accounts more than older people. Of 18 to 24-year-olds who use a streaming service, 22% are using one that belongs to someone outside of their household.
The report comes amidst tremendous growth in new and existing streaming video services. Last month HBO launched HBO Now, a standalone streaming service that allows people in the U.S. to stream HBO without subscribing to cable or satellite. Earlier this year, Dish, the satellite company, launched Sling TV, a package of live TV channels streamed online that starts at $US20 a month.
People are watching less live TV than they used to and ratings are down. Americans are ditching expensive cable and satellite TV subscriptions, or not signing up for TV once they live on their own, and choosing streaming video services like Netflix instead.
For the first time ever, pay TV providers — think cable and satellite companies like Comcast and DirecTV — lost TV subscribers in the first quarter of the year, a traditionally a strong period for them.
For the most part, streaming services have not cracked down on shared password use. Netflix’s “Standard” $US8.99 per month plan actually allows for two people to stream on different devices at the same time, while an $US11.99 per month “Premium” subscription, which the company launched two years ago, allows for up to four people to stream concurrently.
Both HBO Now and HBO Go, the streaming service that’s available only to those who subscribe to HBO through a TV company, allow for three concurrent streams.
The idea with these services is that an immediate family can have one account, so parents can watch something while two kids stream something else.
In the past, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has downplayed password sharing, saying in a call with investors two years ago that the company doesn’t think that a lot of people share passwords with “marginal acquaintance[s].”
But last year, Hastings had a more memorable response after an analyst asked the question again, noting that Richard Plepler, the CEO of HBO, had recently said that sharing HBO Go passwords had “no impact on the business.”
“So I guess Plepler … doesn’t mind me then sharing his [Netflix] account information,” Hastings joked. “So it’s [email protected] and his password is ‘netflix bitch.’ “
Plepler, for his part, told CNN’s Brian Stelter last month that HBO looks at password sharing “very carefully.” For now, however, the number of people sharing passwords on HBO Go is “just simply not a big number.”
Parks Associates found that 57% of households in the U.S. that have a broadband connection use a subscription streaming video service, but Parks Associates surveyed households in the third quarter of last year, before the release of HBO Now and Sling TV.