A Lannister Always Pays His Debts — But Do Too Many Of His Fans Watch For Free?

Play associated audio

For today's All Things Considered story about people sharing their Netflix or Hulu Plus passwords, producer Sami Yenigun latched on to what could've been an ordinary entertainment-business story and front-loaded it with snippets of sound from Game of Thrones — attacking dragons, evil kings, treacherous harlots. He made it hilarious.

But if you don't have three minutes to listen, here's the gist: Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities believes that as many as 20 percent of the people using subscription-based streaming services such as Hulu Plus, HBO Go and Netflix aren't paying for them — but are using other people's passwords.

Pachter sees password-sharing as a real challenge for an industry that's still in development. And he says there are ways companies might start cracking down — basically, by giving different IDs to a limited number of people who share the same account.

"So if two people use the same user ID at the same time, then the content owner is going to be notified there's an illicit user, and they'll probably turn off both accounts," Pachter explains, adding that there's a risk there in ticking off the legitimate users.

The heads of several of these companies have publicly stated they're not terribly bothered by password-sharing. But recently Netflix added an option that seemed to indicate concern; it allows four people to legally stream videos at the same time.

Pachter predicts that'll never happen with HBO Go. Persuading the cable companies — once one of only a few pipelines, and still a gateway, between content producer and consumer — to acquiesce to the idea would probably take an army.

Or — cue sound — a dragon.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'It's A Surviving Tool': 'Native' Tells Satirical Stories Of Life In Israel

NPR's Kelly McEvers talks to author Sayed Kashua, an Israeli-Palestinian whose satirical weekly columns in Haaretz newspaper are collected in his new book called Native.
NPR

What The Heck Is Natural Wine? Here's A Taste

Natural wines can be off-putting at first: perhaps darker than usual, a little fizzy or cloudy. Some find them charming, others unsophisticated. Here's a guide to this trending, quirky style of wine.
NPR

Jim Gilmore, Who Was Campaigning For President, Isn't Anymore

He had the resume — swing-state governor, veteran, ex-party leader — but there's a good chance you had no idea he was running. Judging by vote totals, Iowa and New Hampshire may have missed it too.
NPR

Colonialism Comment Puts Facebook Under Scrutiny

A Facebook board member lambasted a decision by regulators in India, the social network's second-largest market. He thereby sparked new scrutiny of Facebook's intentions in that country.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.