After a decade of encouraging customers to share their streaming accounts, services like Netflix now take the opposite stance. They claim that “password piracy” is detrimental to the industry and are struggling to fight the phenomenon. Evidently, Adobe sees this as a business opportunity.
Adobe just launched Primetime Account IQ, a service that promises to solve “illegal” password sharing on sites like “Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max.” It uses machine learning to track user habits and identify “credential sharing and fraud.” From there, it can enforce an appropriate “accountability strategy” that may encourage password sharers to pay for their own streaming accounts.
The “accountability strategies” promoted by Primetime Account IQ vary in intensity. The service may force 2FA on small-time password sharers, or routinely log such users out of their accounts (which makes password sharing a hassle). But in more extreme cases, Primetime Account IQ may restrict account access or show intimidating pop-ups to a service’s customers.
In theory, companies like Netflix could enforce this kind of approach without Adobe’s help. But the Primetime Account IQ service is very comprehensive. It integrates with other Adobe services, and it can show a company how much money it’s “losing” due to “fraud.” Adobe also claims that Primetime Account IQ can speed up a website or app by replacing outdated security tools.
This is a frustrating conversation. Password sharing is a huge part of streaming’s success, and up until now, companies like Netflix have encouraged the behavior. The language that Adobe uses to advertise its Primetime Account IQ service shows just how dramatically things have changed—it repeatedly calls password sharing an “illegal” activity equal to “fraud” or “piracy.”
And from a business standpoint, Adobe’s solution to “password piracy” looks very appealing. It’s much smarter than the crap that Netflix is testing in South America, at least.
It seems that the golden era of streaming is finally ending. Back in 2019, I wrote an article titled “Streaming Services Are Beginning to Look Like Cable Companies.” Most of the concerns listed in that article are now coming true, though to be honest, I didn’t expect password sharing to become such a hot topic.
The idea that streaming services lose “billions of dollars” to account sharing is silly. It’s based on the assumption that everyone would pay for Netflix, or Disney+, or HBO MAX if they couldn’t use a friend’s account for free. In reality, the ability to share these accounts is one of the only ways to justify their ridiculous monthly fees.