Sharing streaming passwords. It’s a tricky topic that begs the question:
Am I going to get fined and thrown in the slammer for letting my mum use my Netflix password?
With all subscription-based streaming services now allowing for multiple streams, it makes sense to spread the love. I mean, why not share your HBO Go password?
We’re in the golden age of television, folks. There’s hardly a week goes by without Amazon releasing an Original series, or Netflix dropping yet another show that’s the best thing since that slice of bread that looked like Jesus.
It’s easy to see why you would want to share your streaming passwords. Financially? Makes sense. If you’re a TV fan, who can’t keep up with the cost of multiple subscriptions and simply *have* to rewatch The Sopranos AGAIN? Makes sense.
And why not? You’ve got Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admitting that they’re aware of it, and it’s no problem. “Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with,” he says, “because there’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids ….”
But here’s what’s what: these companies allow for multiple streams on one subscription. But they’re not exactly giddy at the thought of you dishing out your login details to people if you don’t live in the same house.
If you do? You’re not alone. A Consumer Reports study from 2014 showed that 46% of adults shared their log-ins for streaming services with people outside of their home.
And yes, while it is highly unlikely you’ll get a visit from the cops because you’ve given your Hulu password to grandma (she’s desperate to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy), does it violate Hulu’s policy?
Here’s the lowdown on each of the biggest streaming services and what their password-sharing policies are.
Cost: $99 a year or $12.99 a month
Account sharing rules:
- Two adults and four children can be attached to one Amazon Prime subscription
- Three people can stream at once
- You can only stream one specific title to one device at a time
Amazon Prime’s streaming parameters are clear.
To make use of multiple people using the account, create an Amazon Household option consisting of two adults and four children. Adults can each have their own separate Amazon logins that are attached to the same Prime subscription, and children must login using one of those adult accounts.
I didn’t know about this until last year but it also makes Christmas shopping way easier now that your partner can’t see what you’ve bought for them.
According to the official policy, you’re allowed to stream three different titles on three devices at the same time, but “You can stream the same title to no more than one device at a time.”
You can watch The Matrix, your mom can watch Star Trek Beyond and your sister can watch Aeon Flux, but you can’t all watch Aeon Flux. So at least there’s a silver lining.
Cost: $15 a month
Account sharing rules:
- Sharing is okay in the same household
- You can have no more than three streams on the go at once
The official policy says an HBO Now subscription “applies to your entire household.” The definition of a household isn’t expanded upon, allowing for you to get creative in who you’d like to dish out your password to.
“In most cases, members of your household can sign in to HBO NOW on different devices, and watch different shows at the same time. Your HBO NOW email and password should not be shared with anyone outside your household,” the company says. “For security reasons, the number of simultaneous streams is limited.”
What is that number? Three. You can share your login with however many people you like, but make sure that the amount of people streaming doesn’t go above three, otherwise everyone gets booted off.
Cost: $7.99 a month (with ads) / $11.99 a month (no ads)
Account sharing rules:
- There is multi-profile support so more than one person can set up their own specifics
- You are only allowed to stream to one device at a time
Hulu’s rules for both commercial and commercial-free subscriptions are on the strict side.
Members of the same household are allowed access to the same account (woo!) but only one stream is permitted at a time (gah!) Even within those parameters it makes it a bit difficult deciding who gets the Hulu password in one house.
Despite that hurdle, you’re able to activate as many devices as you want and set up individual profiles as well! So you can tailor your own watchlist and favourites without everyone else being able to see your choices.
And, there are rumours online that you can, in fact, stream multiple titles at once, but Hulu has yet to verify this. You might also get a stern warning for abusing this.
Cost: $7.99 – $11.99
Account sharing rules:
- Lenient as hell. You can share away as long as those who have access are in your immediate family. Not sure if that means the postman.
- There’s still a limit to how many folks can use your account. “Your plan will determine how many people can stream Netflix content at once,” reads the official Netflix statement.
- There are multiple options available depending on how much you’re willing to pay:
- $7.99: watch on 1 screen in Standard Definition, download onto 1 device
- $10.99: watch on 2 screens at a time in SD and High Definition, download onto 2 devices
- $13.99: watch on 4 screens at a time in SD, HD and Ultra HD, download onto 4 devices
Netflix is very chill when it comes to how many people can use one account. You’re allowed to set up multiple profiles, which in itself should tell you a lot. It also lets your friends do things like this:
While Netflix isn’t fond on you giving out your password to those outside of your immediate family, they’re really not bothered about it. “We usually like to think that a husband and wife can share an account and that that’s perfectly appropriate and acceptable,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said on an earnings call in 2013. “If you mean, ‘Hey, I got my password from my boyfriend’s uncle,’ then that’s not what we would consider appropriate.”
They can’t really tell the difference between a family member or a friend, however.
The only time they’ll really clamp down is if you sell your Netflix password.
What’s the verdict?
Even with policies in place to prevent the services being abused, Netflix and HBO aren’t going to rouse the cops to bust down your door.
By the sounds of it, the big streaming services are so, well, BIG, that even with a significant chunk of people sharing passwords – and Netflix doesn’t keep track of the exact number because it’s such a pain in the butt – it doesn’t affect business.
“We love people sharing Netflix whether they’re two people on a couch or 10 people on a couch. That’s a positive thing, not a negative thing,” said Netflix’s CEO. “As kids move on in their life, they like to have control of their life, and as they have an income, we see them separately subscribe. It really hasn’t been a problem.”
You’ll hear almost the exact same thing from HBO’s CEO: “It’s not that we’re unmindful of it [sharing, that is], but it has no real effect on the business.”
There you have it.
You shouldn’t worry about sharing your streaming passwords but think twice if you think about selling your passwords.