What's the password? Millennials leaders in getting streaming TV for free

August 23, 2018 by Rex Crum, The Mercury News
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

It's no secret that people would rather get something for free than pay for it. And faced with the possibility of paying $10.99 a month for Netflix or getting it for nothing, it should come as no surprise that someone might want to use another person's password to log in and binge on the latest season of "Orange Is The New Black."

And when it comes to password sharing for streaming TV services, millennials lead the way in getting something for nothing. That's according to the results of a study on streaming video-watching habits from media and entertainment research firm Magid.

The 2018 Magid Video Entertainment Survey, which included 2,000 Americans from the ages of 8 to 64, showed that when it comes to millennials, 26 percent of the group uses the password from someone else's account to watch shows on a streaming TV service such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video. Magid defines millennials as consumers between the ages of 22 and 40.

But, even more than millennials, those in the 18-to-21 age bracket like to stream their TV shows with the password of someone paying for the service, with 27 percent of the group, which Magid calls "Adult Plurals," doing so.

Jill Rosengard Hill, of Magid, said the high rate of streaming TV password sharing among millennials is indicative of what she called the "shared economy," in which participants of a group try to save money and help out their friends at the same time.

"For them, it's no different than having their parents pay for their insurance or their cell phone," Hill said. "What many do is: Someone will subscribe to Netflix, while someone else will subscribe to Hulu, and they will swap passwords with each other. That way, they can say they are each paying for something."

Hill said the concept of password sharing is definitely more in vogue with younger streaming TV viewers. The Magid study showed 10 percent of Gen Xers, those between the ages of 41 and 51, share streaming TV passwords, while just 8 percent of Baby Boomers do so.

One of the ongoing questions involving sharing is how much money the likes of Netflix and Hulu are losing in the process. Netflix allows for five individual profiles with one paid account, while a Hulu account can have up to six profiles. However, the multi-profile feature is intended to be used by different members of the same family so that they can watch shows they prefer. Sharing passwords with friends, or others not under the same roof, is a different matter.

"How much money is it worth?' asked Hill. "It's really hard to say. But it's going to be a bigger question as more and more streaming TV services become available."

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