This New Service Can Tell If You’re Sharing Your Netflix Password

Netflix Ipad Credit: pixinoo / Shutterstock
Text Size
- +

Toggle Dark Mode

Password sharing among users of streaming platforms may soon be a thing of the past — at least, if Synamedia gets its way.

The UK-based firm announced a new software service at CES 2019 this week aimed at streaming platforms. Basically, the service relies on a machine learning algorithm that can detect when users are sharing passwords to a single account amongst a group of people.

In a press release, Synamedia said its system could help content providers “combat the rapid rise in account sharing between friends and families and turn it into a new revenue-generation opportunity.”

Apparently, that’s because “younger” people have already gotten used to freeloading off their parents’ or friends’ Netflix or HBO Go accounts. Synamedia notes that password sharers rarely become paying customers.

Hence, the new machine learning-based system, which Synamedia has dubbed Credentials Sharing Insight.

Basically, a streaming platform — like Netflix — would buy access to the Synamedia service. The system then analyzes data from all of that streaming platform’s users to spot password sharers.

That includes a range of factors, from where an account is being accessed from, what time it’s typically used, what TV shows or movies are being watched, and what device a user is using to access said content. Apparently, it’s smart enough to know if the same user is simply watching content in different locations.

After parsing the data and scanning for patterns that suggest a shared password, the service gives a streaming platform a score based on those factors.

But what happens after a potential infringer is spotted is left up to the particular streaming company. They could, for example, just opt to shut down an account. That may be the case for accounts with credentials that have been sold off to many users online.

In more mild cases, like password sharing among family members, the streaming platform could simply send an email or notification suggesting that they upgrade to a premium or “family” account.

Password sharing is, of course, pretty common. But most streaming platforms have largely ignored it, since it introduces new users to their platforms. That may be changing as the streaming market matures, since companies will become increasingly worried about piracy and revenue.

According to Synamedia, its system is currently undergoing pilot trials at a number of undisclosed streaming firms. It’s not clear when — or even if — high-profile sites like Netflix, Hulu or HBO Go will adopt it.

Social Sharing