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The love-hate phenomena unfolding on OTT platforms

Authored by Sidharth Singh, Co-Founder, CupShup.

I hate you, I love you.

I hate that I love you.

Garret Charles Nash, popularly known as Gnash, shot to popularity 5 years back with the famous song. Around the same time, Netflix tweeted, “Love is sharing a password”. Times were good. Share password, Netflix and Chill, get more eyeballs, TuuuuuDuuuuuMMMMM! Recently, Netflix announced they were planning to crack down on password sharing. Disney followed the cue with announcement of similar plans. So, is it Gnash manifesting itself 5 years down the line or there is more than what meets the eye? This love-hate relationship is a serious affair and it might have serious consequences on the subscriber count and revenue for both firms.

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Well, only time will tell how risky it will turn out to be, but one thing is for sure. It will definitely bring a new turn into consumers’ relationship. I am sure that there will be multiple consumers using their exes and love interest’s passwords and suddenly a notification that this isn’t working anymore will raise eyebrows and sow seeds of discontent before getting to know that Netflix is the culprit here and there is no love triangle emerging yet.

On a serious note, the why for both firms would be different. While for Netflix, which has lost 2 lakh subscribers for the first time in last 10 years, it might be a business compulsion. So, is there love lost? Or have the subscribers lost? I think it is the second. There will definitely be a discussion in the boardroom to shore up the revenue and this move is in line with the same. As far as Disney is concerned, it remains to be seen how severe the crackdown would be. The question is, what is the burden you are passing on to the consumer for sharing the password. If it is a fraction, people won’t mind and happily pay in matured markets as this is fair. I am afraid that cannot be said about developing markets like India.

So, should the subscribers and password sharers be worried?

Severe violators should be worried and for obvious reasons. There are people sharing passwords like birthday cakes to their colleagues and friends and that is certainly unfair. The industry should come hard on such consumers. But there are also genuine cases where a family shares a password and a crackdown may leave them stranded and they might switch to other player or go back to good old TV. Streamers must price the offering in such a way that encourages password sharing, yet add to their revenue in the process. Genuine consumers will be happy to pay extra if it doesn’t burn a hole in their pockets. As far as streamers are concerned, I don’t think everyone will come down hard on password sharing. There will always be a player looking for more eyeballs to their content. If your content game is strong, the streamer will definitely sail through even with slightly increased pricing.

Good or bad, this decision by both players will have far reaching consequences and this might give birth to a genuine revenue stream, which gives respectable password sharing option to its subscriber at a fraction of cost subscribed.

While a move like this might prove detrimental to streamers with base in Tier 2 and 3 cities, like MX Player and ALTBalaji, but when it comes to Netflix and Disney, the consumers are already at the top of the pyramid and have opted for this because of the content. There might be a churn, but that churn would be for the good. If the eyeball is not getting a revenue for a player like Netflix, what good is the eyeball for?

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