Sunday, May 30, 2021

Why Sharing Varies Across Streaming Accounts

I don't share streaming accounts, but I know people who do, especially Netflix, for years. I started to think about why some services seem to be shared more than others.

Long known for having a lax policy on cracking down sharers, Netflix surprised users in March when some users logged into a shared Netflix account and saw a message that read, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching." Though CEO Reed Hastings later downplayed that they were “tightening the screws" on sharers anytime soon and said it was just part of their ongoing tests. While they can easily IP detect where you're logging in from, they don't really police it. One side benefit I love of this is when I travel, some hotel smart TVs now have an easy option to login to your Netflix account and it logs you off automatically when you check out. This is so nice instead of watching random stuff and channel surfing on cable, which seems so outdated today! 

Compare that to my Hulu + Live TV subscription. Hulu is one of the strictest services. Per Hulu, if you use a living room device while connected to a different Wi-Fi network than what you set as your Home network, you’ll get an error message stating you’re not at home — in this case, you'll have the option to update your Home network if needed. You can change your Home network up to four times per year. So this really deters anyone from sharing with others. But this is also a pain for legitimate users like me who would love to watch my Hulu shows while traveling at a hotel. But unlike the convenient Netflix scenario described above, you can't do that with Hulu.

No one I know shares their Amazon Prime Video subscription. This is likely because if they're anything like us, Amazon is our "super" account for all kinds of services tied to our login -- Shopping, Kindle, Echos, Music, Photo (Did you even know Amazon has a great photo backup service!?!). I don't care if the recommended shows algorithm is thrown off from sharing. But as it relates to Shopping, the last thing I want is someone else ordering stuff charged to my Amazon account! I've never had any issues logging on to my Amazon account on multiple devices in various cities. I haven't noticed Amazon Prime Video integrated into hotel entertainment systems, but I think it's a matter of time, given how fast they are growing.

Disney+ is so focused on user growth, as witnessed by their low price point and generous 4 simultaneous logins, they also are very lax on sharing it seems, like Netflix.  Even with their recent price increase, $8/mo is one of the best deals in town, given their huge library of content from Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and their own Disney studios! Sign up for 1 year and it's less than $7/mo. So who really needs to split such a low fee?!?! This is one streaming service I hope to see at hotel TVs soon. I can sit back and watch anything Star Wars or Marvel anytime from anywhere! =)

Travel tip: Lots of hotels, especially higher-end hotels or those that have updated their TVs, allow you to plug into a HDMI port with a Roku, Chromecast or Fire TV stick. So I pack one with me when I travel now just in case to access my favorite streaming services, except Hulu + Live TV. Some with newer smart TVs even let you Chromecast or send what's on your mobile phone directly to the TV!


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