Artificial Intelligence Helps Track Down Account-Sharing Millennials

January 11, 2019 Updated: January 12, 2019

Freely sharing Netflix login details with friends and family who live minutes, hours, or days away could become a thing of the past. The company is introducing new artificial intelligence (AI) technology to identify users who share login details with others to avoid paying an additional fee for online entertainment services.

“The Netflix service and any content viewed through our service are for your personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household,” Netflix’s terms and conditions state on its website.

Magid conducted video entertainment survey that found 26 percent of millennials between the ages of 22 and 40, out of a group of 2,000 Americans between the ages of 8 to 64, admit to sharing account passwords for over-the-top (OTT) services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

According to Synamedia, which developed the new AI software, OTTs would have overlooked account detail sharing in the past—the same way users overlook the terms and conditions—thinking it benefited their services with more publicity and customers. OTTs later realized the marketing tactic was not good since the new audience rarely wanted to become a paying customer.

Technology Offers Extra Surveillance

Synamedia Credentials Sharing Insight is capable of monitoring, identifying, and analyzing account sharing activity of users according to a press release. A real-time dashboard notifies the OTT of unusual activities.

Although privacy is a major concern for many Americans, Synamedia defended its service saying businesses will receive insightful information about customer sharing activities. This will mean “marketing teams can tread the fine line between finding account sharers and harassing a customer,” the company said.

Netflix logo on an iPhone in Philadelphia
Netflix logo on an iPhone in Philadelphia, on July, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

They will know the difference between users logging in from home, vacation, and elsewhere using someone else’s credentials.

Millennials and ‘Shared Economy’

It is unclear whether Netflix, Amazon, or other OTTs will use the AI to resist the rise of millennials’ shared economy, as Jill Rosengard Hill describes it according to Magid.

Hill, who is executive vice president at media research company Magid, told The Mercury News in 2018 service providers lose money when customers share login details with others. A study about millennial sharing exposed shady tactics some customers use, and estimated 26 percent of millennials avoid paying monthly fees.

Market research and consulting company Parks Associates “predicts that in 2021, $9.9 billion of pay-TV revenues and $1.2 billion of OTT revenues will be lost to credentials sharing,” according to Synamedia.

OTTs are free to decide what should be done with accounts found to be conducting suspicious activity. A business may instruct AI to offer an upgrade to customers who show high usage. The AI is planned to give customers the opportunity to justifiably share passwords, provided they have the money to do so.

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