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Content streamers in Finland crack down on password sharing

While Netflix is planning to tighten restrictions, other firms are less strict about the practice. But live sports streams are often restricted.

Netflixin ohjelma kuvaruudulla, kaukosäätimellä säätöä. Anonyymi.
Yle tested how streaming services dealt with shared logins on four different devices on three different networks. Image: Katriina Laine / Yle
Yle News

Customers of some content streaming services available in Finland may have noticed they cannot share passwords to people outside of their household.

Sport, TV series and movie streamer Viaplay, for instance, has started limiting the permitted number of simultaneous logins. Soon, Viaplay subscribers will only be able to watch the same live sports broadcast from a single device at a time.

However, at least currently, such restrictions do not apply to Viaplay's streaming movies and series.

Viaplay justified the policy by saying it wouldn't be able to afford sports event broadcast rights if viewers share their passwords outside their households.

US-based streaming giant Netflix plans to crack down on unauthorised sharing of user accounts and passwords. The firm estimated last year that 100 million households streamed Netflix without paying for it. At the time, it had around 222 million paying subscribers.

Finnish-based service Ruutu+, another sports and entertainment streamer, is also planning to address the issue of account sharing, according to the outlet's development manager, Tero Vedenoja.

"We know that sharing is common especially for sports," he said, adding that the firm is making an effort to limit simultaneous viewing.

On the other hand, Nordic streaming service C More does not have such plans.

"We know that our customers also share their accounts with relatives and friends, but so far the numbers are moderate enough that we have not felt the need to react," C More business chief Saara Pekkonen said.

According to their terms of service, streaming sites generally prohibit customers sharing their accounts with people outside their households. However, in practice, the enforcement of those rules varies.

Yle's streaming service Yle Areena requires no password to use, as long as your IP address is in Finland. An Yle ID can also be created on the platform for free to better keep track of the wide variety of content offered.

Using four different devices on three different IP addresses, Yle aimed to see how various streaming services dealt with multiple users trying to access the same account. Sports-related content referred to live broadcasts.

Here are the results

  • NO LIMITATIONS: Apple TV+, available on at least four devices.
  • NO LIMITATIONS: C More, hockey match available on at least four devices.
  • NO LIMITATIONS: Disney+, available on at least four devices.
  • NO LIMITATIONS: Ruutu+, basketball match available on at least four devices.
  • RESTRICTED: Viaplay, handball match limited to two devices.
  • RESTRICTED: Netflix, (currently) available on two devices, more at additional charge.
  • RESTRICTED: Amazon Prime Video available on two devices.
  • BLOCKED: Bookbeat, you can listen to books on one device, more at additional charge.
  • BLOCKED: Discovery+, tennis Grand Slam only available on one device.
  • BLOCKED: HBO, content only available on one IP address, but access on several devices is possible if they're on the same network.
  • BLOCKED: Spotify, streaming music only available on one device at a time, without paying an extra fee.

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