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Television Businesses Privacy Security Entertainment

Cable TV's Password-Sharing Crackdown Is Coming (bloomberg.com) 143

Charter Communications' CEO, Tom Rutledge, is leading an industrywide effort to crack down on password sharing. It's a growing problem that could cost pay-TV companies millions of subscribers -- and billions of dollars in revenue -- when they can least afford it. Bloomberg reports: Cable and satellite carriers in North America have lost 3 million customers this year alone. But the prevalence of password sharing suggests many of those customers, and possibly many more, are watching popular shows like "The Walking Dead" for free, robbing pay-TV providers and programmers of paying subscribers and advertising dollars. Most pay-TV companies only require users to re-enter their passwords for each device once a year. During contract negotiations this fall, Charter urged Viacom Inc., home of Comedy Central and MTV, to help limit illicit password swapping. The cable company wants programmers to restrict the number of concurrent streams on their apps and force legitimate subscribers to log in more often, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. ESPN, meanwhile, has reduced the number of simultaneous streams that it allows on its app to five from 10 and is considering cutting that to three, Connolly said. ESPN wants to work more closely with distributors to validate subscribers when there are high volumes of streaming on its app outside the cable company's territory.
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Cable TV's Password-Sharing Crackdown Is Coming

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  • We need a law to prohibit all terms in a contract not specifically related to the acquisition and distribution of said content. Problem solved. How many times a app requires someone to reauthorize really? I would assume they were talking Netflix...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:31PM (#55779931)

      We need a law to prohibit all terms in a contract not specifically related to the acquisition and distribution of said content. Problem solved. How many times a app requires someone to reauthorize really? I would assume they were talking Netflix...

      Why the hell is this a problem for government to solve?

      WTF do you want? The fucking logon police?

      Talk about overweening statism...

      If a company wants to charge for their content, let them figure out how to prevent users from sharing logins.

    • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Thursday December 21, 2017 @01:50AM (#55781441)

      Cable companies: "We need to government to protect us from our theiving customers." Also cable companies: "But government regulation is bad! We must end net neutrality!"

      • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

        Cable companies: "We need to government to protect us from our theiving customers." Also cable companies: "But government regulation is bad! We must end net neutrality!"

        Voila! No net neutrality. The easiest way to cancel a cable service is to stop paying them, now go outside and play.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:31PM (#55779929)

    With every passing year it becomes more of a pain in the ass and more expensive to "consume content". I cut the cord almost ten years ago and now only pay for my DSL connection and Netflix. I would never in a million years pay for multiple streaming packages and/or cable tv or satellite tv.
    Never...

    If anything, this amalgamation of absolute fucking crap that continues to roll downhill, masquerading as the current content consumption paradigm, has me watching less "tv" and reading more.

    Thanks!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:32PM (#55779937)

    I'm sure all of those millennials sharing their parents' passwords will immediately sign up for cable as soon as the restrictions take effect.

    • by Ranbot ( 2648297 )

      I'm sure all of those millennials sharing their parents' passwords will immediately sign up for cable as soon as the restrictions take effect.

      It's short-sighted to say that none of them would get their own cable TV accounts. It's also possible they might sign-up for streams directly from networks like ESPN, HBO, AMC, etc., benefitting the networks and bypassing traditional cable TV.

      But, it could go the other generational way too. My wife and I* have Netflix with 4 four device log-ins, but we only use 2, so we gave our respective baby-boomer parents each a device log-in. We helped our parents see the benefit of using a streaming service. If Netfli

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by farble1670 ( 803356 )

        * - We are between GenX and Millenial... both born in 1980. Make whatever assumption you want. It will not change the reality.

        What reality? That you are illegally sharing accounts?

        You may have some naive fantasy that you are "sticking it to the man" You aren't. When you share your account, it increases traffic and keeps cash flow to Netflix the same. What do you think happens? Do you think Netflix says "oh well, less profit for us!". No, they raise prices. So basically your logic is I'll steal what amounts to an entire subscription, but the associated loss will be spread over the entire subscriber base. Win for you!

        If you need hel

        • Where I live sharing accounts isn't illegal. South of here [globalnews.ca] is another story.
        • Lick those boots!

          • Keep on stealing what you can. Cheating your taxes, hiring a personal injury lawyer when you slip at the grocery or get in a fender bender, whatever. Life is about grabbing all you can at the expense of others.

        • by Ranbot ( 2648297 ) on Thursday December 21, 2017 @12:17AM (#55781197)

          Nope. I don't have a "naive fantasy" that I am "sticking it to the man," that's just your strawman argument. I have no problems at all being part of a normal market economy. I am paying Netflix for 4 streams whether I use them or someone else does. No other rationalization is needed. A streaming service is able to reduce the number of available streams to subscribers and/or put better restrictions in place on sharing as they feel it is necessary. It's no different than a software company choosing whether or not to put DRM on their software or telecoms restricting tethering, they are weighing profits vs satisfaction of customers. If Netflix changes things so my wife and I can't share as easily, then us and our respective parents will decide how we all want to spend our money, like people in a normal market economy do. Coincidentally the original article is about networks wanting to reduce number of streams to try to get more subscribers. So, a real life example of what is described in the article [and the icing on the cake is contrary to popular generational stereotypes it's the baby boomer generation parents coasting on their children.]

          • I guess if I don't want you to steal my TV in order to do your streaming, I'd better put a better lock on my house. Apparently honesty and integrity aren't factors.
          • I am paying Netflix for 4 streams whether I use them or someone else does.

            No, you are not. If you have any question, I suggest you call Netflix support and ask them. If you are going to pick and choose, why bother considering any of the rules? At least be honest with yourself.

            No other rationalization is needed.

            Agreed, life is simpler if you just don't think about how your actions effects others.

            If Netflix changes things so my wife and I can't share as easily, then us and our respective parents will decide how we all want to spend our money, like people in a normal market economy do.

            Exactly. So you'll break the rules until someone has a way to force you to stop. Like I said, ponder if you will how society would operate if everyone followed that creed.

            it's the baby boomer generation parents coasting on their children

            Are you really so simple that you are breaking this

      • We are between GenX and Millenial... both born in 1980. Make whatever assumption you want. It will not change the reality.

        Aside: we've been termed "Oregon Trailers" [wikipedia.org].

    • I'm sure all of those millennials sharing their parents' passwords will immediately sign up for cable as soon as the restrictions take effect.

      That's like saying if I put a fence up around my field people will stop stealing my apples. And ... what's the downside?I get more apples to sell to paying customers, and I lose nothing otherwise. I guess I had to pay for a fence.

      I know "screw the cable companies" and all that, but the bottom line is that if there's more traffic on their networks and fewer paying users the price goes up for those of us that do pay fairly. People have this fantasy that they are sticking it to the man. They aren't they are st

    • by leonbev ( 111395 )

      Sure, they'll probably try to pirate the content if they can't mooch of their parents Cable accounts anymore. But, wait... this is one of the reasons why the telcos and cable companies lobbied to kill net neutrality!

      There aren't as many legal issues from stopping ISP's from blocking BitTorrent traffic now, or any of the known pirate stream aggregating sites. Sure, they won't be able to block all pirated content, but they'll probably be able to get rid of the people using sites like GoStream and hacked Kodi

  • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:32PM (#55779941) Journal

    $n.nn for two screens $n.nn + $5 or so for 4 screens.
    Seems pretty dang simple to me.
    Rather than trying to police the mess that is "is this a shared PWD or is this a mobile user or is this a legit user that moved their cable box for the night?" they just limit concurrent streams to whatever you've paid for.

    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      yeah but they probably patented the process so now we need laws for all others providers so that they too can do nothing and litigate the customer/potential customer into fucktardom.
      cause thats how they roll

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @08:16PM (#55780475)

      Netflix has been pretty awesome about this stuff for years, in fact. Prior to the current plans (i.e. back when they didn’t have profiles and only offered two screens), Netflix used to state in their terms that each account was “per household”, and then they had a generous definition for “household” that made it applicable to everyone from unrelated roommates living together to college students away at school. And they were really smart when they added multiple profiles per account, since they all share a single login, including access to billing details, which acts as a natural disincentive against sharing your account too far and wide.

      • Indeed this is how Amazon deals with "sharing" a Prime subscription. You can share it with anybody who you entrust with your credit card!
    • No Netflix just caused it all over again. Can't buy less than 3 parallel screens or 5 if i want 4K, so unless I share my password, I would not only be paying for crap that I don't want, I wouldn't even be using it.

    • What if these screens are in different states? What if just share my password anyway so I pay for one not two screens?

      • but they're getting paid for both screens, if you're splitting the bill informally with someone, Netflix doesn't GAF, as long as the card used is good.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is the TFA really implying locking down concurrent streams is a problem?

  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:39PM (#55779995) Homepage Journal

    The more you tighten your grip cable companies, the more customers will slip through your fingers.

    Yaz

    • The cable companies got the local governments to grant them monopolies. So customers literally can't slip through their fingers, unless they eschew cable service entirely.
      • [...]unless they eschew cable service entirely.

        Ever hear of cord cutting? It's happening more and more, and the cable companies are losing out because of it big time.

        I'm fortunate in that my employer pays for my cable bill, but if they didn't I'd cut the cord as well.

        Yaz

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:47PM (#55780059)

    Netflix DVD catalog is VASTLY bigger than the streaming catalog. It has almost every movie ever made. In addition, you can rent a DVD, watch it, sneakernet it over to your buddy, who watches it. Then post it back to netflix. No password needed.

    The only significant drawback is that you might have to wait a few months for the newest TV series to appear on DVD - unless you can pick them up on broadcast. Just think of it like if they had come out a few months later. In some ways that is nicer, because you can binge them if you want without waiting a week between eps.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      The only significant drawback is that you might have to wait a few months for the newest TV series to appear on DVD - unless you can pick them up on broadcast. Just think of it like if they had come out a few months later.

      After your co-workers have already spoiled them and closed discussion of them around the water cooler.

    • I dropped my NF disk subscription because, while the catalog may have "almost every movie ever made", the actual availability for about 90% of it was nil. Too many titles had "very long wait".

      Worse were TV series - what good is short waits on disks 2, 3, and 6 if 1, 4, and 5 were "missing but still in the catalog"?

    • No - that used to be true. My Saved list (not available) is growing monthly. They've been selling off catalog and a lot of movies that were on my list are now (likely permanently) unavailable.

      It's not just back catalog. Indie movies from the past few years were never added to the library.

      I've never seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That's a major movie - in the AFI 100 list and the National Film Registry. I added the Blu-Ray to my list years ago - it came out in 2008. It is no longer available.

  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:54PM (#55780109) Homepage Journal

    >>...when they can least afford it

    Go on, tell me another one!

  • by TimothyHollins ( 4720957 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:57PM (#55780129)

    Sounds like cable is about to shoot itself in the foot.

    Meanwhile, Netflix doesn't complain about shared passwords, even allows users to set up multiple profiles on each account so it's easier to share.
    I hope netflix has enough bandwidth to absorb all the new customers that are about to join up.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why do you think this happens immediately -AFTER- net neutrality is repealed?

      • Also I heard that in Romania a lamb was born with two heads. Truly an ill omen. We are living in the end times!

  • by SoulMaster ( 717007 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @07:10PM (#55780199)

    Just limit it by MAC to a certain # of devices, and let the user delete devices from time to time. Apple does this already, so does Adobe CC, and Google Music. It's not that hard.

    The whining is coming not from the content providers, but from the cable companies, because they're the obsolete ones getting screwed. Viacom doesn't care because the more streams there are (regardless of shared login) the more $ they get to charge advertisers on OTT.

    It's simple math: a+b = cable companies just need to die already.

    -SM

    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
      I would be willing to directly pay double to each network that I want what the networks get from the cable companies per subscriber (if I could get that network's content commercial free). Maybe even triple. But that's not good enough for them.... AMC is charging $5 for commercial free, and you STILL need a cable account to use their service. AMCs cost per subscriber to cable companies is less than $1.50/month.
  • More Often? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blackfeltfedora ( 2855471 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @07:14PM (#55780215)
    It seems like I'm being asked to log into my Roku apps on a monthly basis already, how much more do they want?
    • It seems like I'm being asked to log into my Roku apps on a monthly basis already, how much more do they want?

      And we all know how much fun it is to log into an app with a set-top box! HBO GO and a few other services (like Amazon Prime) allow you to get an activation code. But other accounts want your full email and password with the crappiest text interface ever.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I have HBO Now which I subscribed to via iTunes and they recently did some kind of authorization reset which blanked my access on both of my Apple TVs.

        It was stupid and frustrating on many levels:

        1) HBO web site wouldn't process the authorization code using my iPhone as the browser. I had to drag my laptop out to the living room to do it. Really? I would guess that HBO subscription and iPhone ownership are highly correlated. How do this not "just work"?

        2) Why would I lose access on my AppleTV when I sub

  • Is anybody using YouTube TV? How is it for $35 a month? I only feel moderately bad about streaming shows without commercial...

    • Is anybody using YouTube TV? How is it for $35 a month? I only feel moderately bad about streaming shows without commercial...

      Why, are is there something wrong with you?

      I avoid products I see advertised, so by avoiding adverts I am doing the advertisers a favour as I would be more hostile towards them and active avoid their products if the ad wasn't blocked.

    • It's alright. If you aren't trying to stay right on top of live tv, and AFAICT the shows get "released" at some point after the original air-date, and are then ad-free for playback. Also, if you *recorded the show (prior to it being released), just like with traditional DVR's your can skip ahead/back.

      It's much more convenient from a PC than mobile, or "casted" mobile. Though that's true for almost everything.

      * recorded = "Added to your Library, and it has aired."

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @07:38PM (#55780341)
    with overage charges and now this. It's funny that they had 8 years to do these things and restrained themselves and for some reason in the last year or so they've gotten a lot bolder. I wonder if something happened about a year ago to change their outlook on customer service and how much they can get away with...
  • by Jody Bruchon ( 3404363 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @07:39PM (#55780353)
    "Cable TV's attempt to boost Netflix subs is coming" - corrected headline
  • Wow I remember cable. People are still on it?

  • per device fees and must rent our gateway will fix it and boost profits on internet only subs.

  • It is blatantly obvious to anyone paying attention that cable subscriptions are way, way down. The gig is up for these bandits. It took me a while to figure it out but I went from paying about $140 a month for 200 channels of crap to:

    1) An $18 Mohu Leaf OTA antenna. One time cost and picks up about 35 channels, many of them in fantastic resolution. Monthly cost: $0
    2) Plex media server. Free to install and use. Lots of channels with zero commercials. Monthly cost: $0
    3) Pluto. Another free media app with lots

  • Millions of customers lost to password sharing? Pure bullshit.

    Maybe those customers are tired of getting fucked over by the cable companies and the past few weeks have been the last straw.

    Cable companies are losing money and are desperate to make it up. Bullshit and fuck you, that is insulting to our intelligence.

    • Millions of customers lost to password sharing? Pure bullshit.

      Maybe those customers are tired of getting fucked over by the cable companies and the past few weeks have been the last straw.

      Cable companies are losing money and are desperate to make it up. Bullshit and fuck you, that is insulting to our intelligence.

      "Losing Money" = "Less Obscene Profits"

  • Back to Bittorrent it is. *shrug*

  • by zarmanto ( 884704 ) on Thursday December 21, 2017 @08:36AM (#55782449) Journal

    ... It's a growing problem that could cost pay-TV companies millions of subscribers -- and billions of dollars in revenue -- when they can least afford it. ...

    My office mates are looking at me funny, because I quite literally laughed out loud when I read that.

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