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Putting the Brakes on Credential Sharing

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  • Media & Entertainment

If you’ve ever ridden a tandem, you’ll know that it’s possible to grab a free ride by nabbing the back seat and letting your partner do all the work. In the streaming video world, free riders don’t take their feet off the pedals but by using someone else’s credentials, they’re able to get access, without any effort.

Casual password sharing is now so pervasive that many of us deem it acceptable. But the truth is that this behaviour constitutes rights infringement. It also leaves streaming providers picking up the tab for the infrastructure to support unpaid streams while missing out on potential revenues from converting free riders into paying customers.

An Uphill Struggle

Several noteworthy streaming video services launched during the past 18 months including Peacock, HBO Max and Paramount+. With competition for subscribers increasing as services vie to make it into the peloton, password sharing is becoming a massive problem for the entire industry. Where once streaming providers might have considered password sharing between friends and family as a loss leader, today this is no longer the case.

According to a 2020 study from Hub Entertainment Research, 31% of all consumers say they’ve shared a streaming password with someone who doesn’t live with them. Among 13-24 year-olds, this figure rose to more than 80%.

If unchecked, the loss of paying subscribers will impact the future of the streaming video industry. In a July 2019 report, Parks Associates predicted the amount of revenue lost to piracy and password sharing to rise to $12.5 billion worldwide by 2024.

Putting the Brakes On

Fortunately, there’s a speedy way for streaming video providers to put the brakes on free riders and honor their contractual obligations with rights owners while helping to preserve the value of content.

Ad hoc research from our OTT customers shows that roughly two-thirds of the people who borrow or steal other users’ streaming credentials are also using a VPN to access content. Using our GeoGuard VPN and proxy detection solution can quickly take the air out of the free riders’ tires, bringing their free viewing to a fast stop.

Winning the Race

This filtering out the VPN-using credentials sharers helps streaming video providers stay honest with rights owners and protect the credentials of legitimate users. In addition to removing the costs associated with these pirated streams, it also allows OTTs to have a better understanding of their actual customer base, and not get caught out by people hiding their identity behind a VPN. Faced with a dead-end street, this strategy might persuade free riders to do the right thing and become paying customers.

GeoGuard also has the advantage of being up and running faster than a Tour de France competitor on a steep descent because it’s already integrated with popular CDNs including Akamai and Amazon CloudFront. Delivering the industry’s highest VPN detection rates and lowest false positives, GeoGuard ensures that your OTT service will be the race winner.