In totally bumtastic yet unsurprising news, streaming services such as Netflix now have the capability to track accounts that share passwords across households thanks to artificial intelligence programming developed by UK software company Synamedia.
In a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Synamedia revealed its AI program designed to halt account sharing of streaming services. According to the Evening Standard, the program works by tracking user log-in and viewing data:
[It] uses AI, machine learning and behavioural analytics to identify where an account has been accessed from, what time it is used, what content is being watched and by what device.
It then identifies patterns that indicate a shared password, passing this information onto the provider through a probability score that the software has found an infringer.
So, for example, if you live in one region of the country and have shared your password with a friend or family member residing in another, and you both happen to log in and watch shows simultaneously, the AI will make note of it and potentially report you to the streaming provider.
While streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu cost as little as just under $10 per month for basic memberships, ultimately making it not that big of a deal if your cousin in Kansas or your best friend in Oregon have to finally purchase their own accounts, many still view it as yet another money-grabbing move for providers already raking in the big bucks.
In fact, in 2017, Netflix banked $558.9 million despite the prevalence of account sharing, and according to an April MarketWatch article, Netflix was on track to earn more in the first half of 2018 than it did in 2017 as a whole.
Still, research by Parks Associates projects that streaming providers could lose $9.9 billion in subscription revenue and $1.2 billion in over-the-top profits by 2021 as a result of account sharing, and as research from Magid estimates that 26 percent of Millennials alone engage in password sharing, there is definitely motivation on the part of streaming services to put a stop to the practice.
So what will happen if you get caught?
More than likely, your provider will contact you to upgrade your service to one that allows for account sharing — and costs more. Worst case scenario (for now, anyway), they’ll cancel your service. Obviously, neither of these sounds appealing.
And if you’re wondering if your streaming provider is using the new tracking technology, you’re out of luck. Synamedia refuses to name which companies are taking it for a test drive and which aren’t.
What’s an account-sharing Netflix addict to do then? Either contact your friends and relatives and tell them it’s time to pony up for their own services, or live life on the edge and see what happens.
The rebel in me is sort of inclined to go with option B.