Digital content via Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and other streaming services has become a large market for how people consume media. Often times friends and family share their passwords for these services, but now Justin Connolly, an executive vice president of ESPN, says that password-sharing should be considered piracy. He said to Bloomberg, “It’s people consuming something they haven’t paid for. The more the practice is viewed with a shrug, the more it creates a dynamic where people believe it’s acceptable. And it’s not.”
This could have a major impact as Justin Connolly is now one of the main contenders for the roll as President of ESPN after the recent resignation of John Skipper.
Connolly realizes that changing public opinion on password-sharing might be difficult. When he asked 50 millennials if they’ve ever shared a password to a streaming service, every single person raised their hand. ESPN has already taken some action to reduce password-sharing. Recently they decrease the amount of users that could simultaneous stream on the Watch ESPN app from 10 to 5, and they are reportedly considering moving it down to 3.
It is important to note that this statement comes at a time when ESPN is planning on releasing their own streaming service, ESPN Plus. ESPN Plus will broadcast sporting events not aired on their main networks.
Streaming services have been divided on this issue. Chief Executive Officer of Charter Communications Inc. Tom Rutledge agrees with Connolly, claiming that password-sharing is piracy, but not all streaming services adhere to that thinking. Netflix, in fact, sees password-sharing as great advertising.