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Charter Urges Streaming Services to Crack Down on Password Sharing

Phillip Dampier September 16, 2019 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News, Online Video 4 Comments

Charter Communications is contemplating tying piracy mitigation to renewed contracts with movie studios, cable networks, and other programmers in an effort to enforce a new authentication standard to stop password sharing on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and CBS All Access.

The cable company is trying to build an alliance that will enforce authentication principles on subscribers that share passwords to streaming services. Walt Disney is the only programmer to sign on thus far, agreeing to Charter’s piracy mitigation strategies for its Disney+ service in return for a renewed contract to distribute Disney programming on Spectrum cable systems.

Thomas Rutledge, Charter’s CEO, has spoken frequently about revenue erosion caused when consumers share their streaming accounts with friends and extended family members. Spectrum enforces geofencing on its subscribers, prohibiting access to certain streamed content outside of the home. Rutledge has not been specific about exactly what types of limitations would be imposed under the new strategy, but examples could include geofencing, periodic location checks, and limits on the number of devices authorized to view content.

“Ultimately our goal is that we can get an alliance of a large enough group of programmers and operators to protect the value of the content that people produce and the content that we distribute and we pay for,” Chris Winfrey, Charter’s chief financial officer, said last week at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2019 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills.

Winfrey severely criticized programmers that turn a blind eye to the practice of password sharing, claiming such practices are “insane.”

“To think that it doesn’t impact the way we get paid, it does,” Winfrey said. “And it conditions the entire marketplace to think that content should be devalued, it should be free, and that’s the way it is and I shouldn’t have to pay for it. It’s our firm belief that we’d be growing and growing significantly [if it wasn’t for password sharing].”

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Josh
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Josh

Yikes. All of those “strategies” sound like they would interfere with legitimate users all the time.

Only watch stuff at home?!? Gigantic numbers of people watch stuff all over the place, not just at home, and fewer but still large numbers of people travel, and obviously want to watch their service anywhere.

And limited number of devices? At a time, sure, but most of us have piles of devices which change from year to year, and what, we have to dump a service because we get a new Xbox or iPad?!?

This sounds really ignorant.

Doug
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Doug

I would imagine they’d tie a MAC Address to a username/password, for starters. They’d also only allow a fixed amount of MAC addresses to be tied to an account. You’d be able to delete one and replace with another if you ever reach your device cap, similar to what the Apple Store does / did. In the end, content owners don’t want to see their revenue decline, Spectrum doesn’t want to see that either, so they’ll team up to make sure that you won’t be spending less to watch content. The day of buying media is long over. Just ask… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

Guess I won’t be subscribing to Disney+ then. Thanks Mr. Rutledge for saving me money on a subscription I might have started and forgotten to cancel. Now I don’t have to think about it at all.

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