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Cartesian claims service providers are missing out on streaming subscribers by ignoring credential sharing

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New research by the specialist consulting firm Cartesian, based on a survey of nearly 1,200 American consumers in November, reveals that 27% of consumers access streaming video content using account credentials borrowed or stolen from someone they do not live with. In addition to lost revenue, the report outlines other risks to TV service providers that are associated with uncontrolled credential sharing. These include higher costs [every stream represents a CDN cost, for example], breaking content licensing agreements, and customer data security breaches. “The latter is of increasing concern to companies, with the threat of hefty penalties if security measures are found to be lacking,” Cartesian points out.

Cartesian has its own Streaming Video Credential Sharing Detection & Prevention Solution that integrates with existing TV Everywhere and OTT platforms and monitors usage for relevant credential sharing and theft patterns, leveraging proprietary and what it claims are industry-leading clustering and geospatial dispersion algorithms. The company then provides a list of accounts that have been compromised to a service provider, and an ongoing platform-wide health check. Cartesian’s clients include TV broadcasters, video service providers, equipment vendors, and network operators.

We reported previously how Synamedia has also introduced a solution to counter password sharing for streaming services. See this story.

Cartesian has revealed why American consumers engage in credential sharing on video streaming services. 56% of survey respondents said they already “pay enough” for content. However, 42% also indicate that they would be willing to pay for the content if it was not easily accessible. The company defines illegitimate credential sharing as “sharing account access details [i.e. user ID and password] with someone outside of the household for which the subscription was purchased”.

“What has been an effective strategy for OTT video providers to win new subscribers appears to be backfiring,” Cartesian suggests. The company asks if providers are making password sharing too easy. “In the survey, 27% of people who use someone else’s credentials say the main reason they do so is because it is easy and convenient. Others say it is simply because the content they want is not available on services they already pay for.”

The credential sharers in the survey name close friends (29%) and non-household relatives (39%) as the main sources of their (illegitimate) account credentials. The findings are outlined in a report called “How Consumers Access Streaming Video: The Risks of Credential Sharing”.

Cartesian says its anti-sharing solution uses data science, machine learning and behavioral analysis to detect, prevent and stop unwanted behaviours while allowing operators to continue to provide a rich customer experience. “The solution uses the full scope of viewing data that streaming video services already collect to identify which accounts are engaged in credential sharing or theft, and to take sensible steps to prevent this behavior. You need to analyse nuanced patterns to determine whether complex usage behaviors are actually legitimate use or rather credential sharing,” says Sam Kornstein, VP of Strategy and Analytics at Cartesian.

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