Reducing Telco Subscription Abuse with Android TV Device Management

tv subscriptions

Nadav Avni, Chief Marketing Officer at Radix Technologies, informs us of how to manage subscriptions using android device management solutions. Radix Technologies will be present at this month’s MWC event.

Streaming services are a booming business these days. The popularity of OTT and pay-TV has grown exponentially, in part due to convenience. Instead of depending on a TV and limited-yet-costly cable subscription to deliver content, streaming services can be accessed by logging into any smart device: laptops, smartphones, tablets, you name it.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the itinerant lockdowns compounded this popularity, as staying home indoors severely limited available stress-relief outlets. Many turned to online entertainment in place of movie theaters, outdoor sports, and socializing. The biggest winners in this shift were streaming service companies such as Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO. According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of subscriptions to online video streaming services worldwide reached 1.1 billion in 2020. Streaming subscriptions worldwide went up 26% from the previous year—and in the United States, the percentage gain was even higher, at 32%!

But this unprecedented boom in streaming service use also led to a boom in rampant credential sharing—subscribers sharing or exchanging their log-in information with others. This results in lost subscription opportunities for streaming companies and telco operators.

In fairness, many people who share streaming service account passwords do so in the spirit of generosity. However, despite the best intentions on the user’s end, credential sharing represents a massive loss for companies. In 2019 alone, credential sharing cost US pay-TV and over-the-top (OTT) operators $9.1 billion in losses—and this was before the pandemic-induced streaming boom. Many operators think the solution to credential sharing lies in the account and the password. In reality, the answer is monitoring devices used. Utilizing Android TV device management features can help control access to an operator’s services.

The Netflix Example

Netflix serves as a perfect example of this conundrum. The streaming service’s standard plan allows two simultaneous devices to be logged into a single account. Upgrading to a premium account for a fee boosts that to a maximum of four devices. Individuals living solo usually might stick with a standard plan, as it costs much less. However, homes with more than two members typically opt for a plan that allows for simultaneous viewing.

In theory, Netflix is fine with sharing accounts within the same household—the original purpose behind the multiple-device functionality. The problem arises when customers give out the account info to friends across the city or halfway around the world. Market research company Magid estimates that in 2020 one in three Netflix subscribers were sharing their accounts with someone outside the household, making this altruism a severe loss of potential subscriptions for the company.

Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters said in October 2020; they were actively monitoring the password sharing situation. The company recently introduced two-step authentication measures, requiring viewers to enter an additional code sent to the account holder’s email or phone. This solution doesn’t address excessive password sharing directly, as the owner could simply pass on the code. But it does at least curb usage from people that aren’t directly part of the account holder’s friends list.

Of course, Netflix isn’t the only platform grappling with these problems, Other streaming, and pay-TV services are just as prone to rampant credential sharing abuse. All of these can benefit from mitigating solutions that can greatly reduce account sharing or eliminate it entirely. The solution is not simply holding faith that consumers won’t share amongst each other. Operators looking to mitigate credential sharing need to exert more control over devices.

Reduce Subscription Abuse Using Android TV Device Management

Instead of obsessing over how to manage and restrict accounts and passwords, telco operators and OTT streaming service companies should look into managing the number of devices that utilize these subscriptions.

Most telco operators employ some form of Android TV device, whether via set-top boxes connecting to TV sets or Smart TVs. Telco IT teams then remotely administer these Android TV devices utilizing a system referred to as mobile device management (MDM). MDM allows system administrators to connect to each device remotely, making monitoring, administering, and maintaining devices easier. There is no need to dispatch service technicians regularly when the necessary Android TV device management can be done from afar!

Using Android TV Device Management to Monitor Subscriptions

Remote Android TV device management systems (like MDM) mean operators also have the means to monitor subscriptions. Abuse can be curtailed easily by using these maintenance tools to track subscription use. Operators can simply check whether accounts have violated subscription agreement terms. A simple scan can determine whether devices using the same account are located in the same household in an account sharing situation.

And if the operator discovers users violating usage terms by freely sharing account info, what then? MDM systems allow administrators to disable the device and prevent log-in remotely. Operators can also prompt users to secure a new subscription account to continue enjoying services. These features are already part of MDM functionality, and it’s up to the operators to employ them more aggressively.

Use MDM Solutions to Manage Devices and Prevent Subscription Abuse

While often a display of generosity among subscribers, Rampant password sharing isn’t as harmless as it seems. Apart from losing potential revenue from additional subscribers, runaway accounts that pop up from different locations pose problems that can lead to more difficult account monitoring when left unchecked.

Thankfully, Android TV device management solutions can help mitigate subscription abuse. By registering devices—whether a smartphone, tablet, PC, set-top box, or smart TVs—to account users, operators can monitor and manage the subscriptions on said devices. Keeping account data synced with registered devices makes it easier to spot unauthorized log-ins or unqualified devices. This gives operators better control in managing subscriptions and preventing abuse. Operators concerned about subscription abuse should start addressing the issue at its root: utilize Android MDM solutions to keep an eye on your services today!

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Nadav Avni

Nadav Avni is Chief Marketing Officer at Radix Technologies

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