HBO chief Richard Plepler said earlier this year that people swiping HBO Go passwords from family or friends to watch their favorite shows and movies was not a big deal, but he may want to rethink that business concession. A new report by Parks Associates and cited by Consumerist shows that 6% of US households are using someone else's account to watch a streaming-video service (think HBO Go, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime)—and that programming pilfering will cost the industry $500 million this year. Young adults ages 18-24 use OTT (over-the-top) video services paid for by someone else the most, with 20% copping to it, per The Cost of Piracy report. Those numbers keep dropping (e.g., only 10% of the 25-34 set admit to this activity), until they rise slightly in the 55-64 demographic, which Consumerist notes could be from older parents using their adult children's accounts.
"Credential sharing has a measurable impact on video services," a Parks Associates analyst says in the release. "The impact on OTT video revenues is especially troublesome as OTT providers are investing large sums of money to boost their original content offerings." The company notes that a previous study of college students found little guilt or embarrassment present when using a "borrowed" password. Consumerist notes that while Netflix makes it relatively easy for different people to use the same password (its highest-level service plan allows for content to be streamed on four screens at once), other services like Hulu limit streaming to one device at a time, which limits the hit the service takes. (If you are using someone else's HBO Go password, don't whine about it when things go wrong.)