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Disney, Hulu Follow Netflix In Password Sharing Crackdown As Streaming Enshittification Accelerates

Accepted submission by Arthur T Knackerbracket at 2024-02-08 15:13:40
Digital Liberty

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Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story [techdirt.com]:

So we’ve noted more than once that as the streaming sector is saturated and new user growth slows, streaming giants will follow on a fairly predictable path [techdirt.com] that got their predecessors (cable TV companies) in trouble. Namely, shifting away from innovation and disruption and consumer welfare, and toward nickel-and-diming customers in a bid to give Wall Street improved quarterly returns at any cost.

That means a lot of pointless and harmful “growth for growth sake” mergers (see: Discovery Time Warner [techdirt.com]), endless price hikes, weird attempts to nickel-and-dime users (see: Amazon suddenly charging extra to avoid new ads [techdirt.com]), a general skimping on staff pay and customer service, and a steady enshittification of overall product quality you’ve probably already noticed.

Part of that process involves eliminating popular things that previously helped bring in new customers, like password sharing. We’ve noted how when Netflix wanted to sign up more customers, it praised password sharing [techdirt.com], acknowledging that it didn’t really hurt the company’s bottom line, and basically acted as free advertising. Besides, Netflix already charges users extra for additional simultaneous streams [netflix.com].

Now that global growth is slowing, Netflix has to effectively cannibalize its own product quality and brand to appease Wall Street. It’s not good enough to just have a high quality product that makes money and people like; the need for improved quarterly returns inevitably turns disruptors into turf protectors. It’s what kicked Comcast in the teeth, and streaming execs seem poised to ignore the lessons [techdirt.com].

Now that Netflix has normalized the attack on password sharing, companies like Hulu [techradar.com] and Disney [theverge.com] are following suit, sending out warnings that they’ll soon crack down on the practice. Like Netflix’s foray they don’t really explain how it will all work, or even explain why it’s necessary. Only that being harassed if your cash-strapped college kid shares your password is the new normal that you should get used to:

Again, there’s no real evidence to suggest that users who password share will sign up for service. Nor is there any hard evidence [techdirt.com] that Netflix’s password sharing is actually making much money (earnings can’t and don’t actually measure which new users were previously subscribed to another account). Many users lift passwords because they can’t or won’t pay. And estimates of profits here are kind of nebulous [techdirt.com].

But if there’s any potential to squeeze out a tiny bit of additional profits from existing customers, these executives will do it. Wall Street demands it. And when annoyed users increasingly head to free alternatives or piracy after being inundated with price hikes and sagging product quality, execs will inevitably blame everything and everyone but themselves for the failure. It’s how this all works.

So, back to torrents. ok! Sharing is caring, so if we couldn’t share passwords no more…


Original Submission