Culture

Subscription mooching is thriving under COVID-19, obviously

A couple eats popcorn in bed, while watching a movie together.

44M

Number of adults mooching off others' streaming subscriptions.

Cordcutting.com

Shutterstock

Ever since quarantining measures went into effect, streaming has skyrocketed. According to Nielsen, streaming jumped by 36 percent between the months of February and March of this year.

It was bound to happen considering the fact that millions of people find themselves at home, bored and restless (Input has its own definitive guide on what you should check out), but as streaming goes up so does subscription mooching, according to Cordcutting.com. Specifically, it says, there are over 40 million "borrowed" subscription accounts across Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. Oof.

Breaking down the findings — Technically, thanks to subscription mooching, companies are bleeding. Most "borrowers" said that they'd actually pay for a service if it was cut off, though, Cordcutting.com found. Here's more:

  • In cold numbers, mooching turned into actual payments could provide over $2.7 billion to all combined companies as potential revenue. Talk about missing out big time.
  • Subscription mooching is a pronounced issue for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video especially. It's going down for Hulu, however.
  • When it comes to Netflix, specifically, the company could be making at least $356 million (apart from sign-up fees) for every month if "borrowers" started paying.
  • In total, at least 142.5 million American adults are paid-for subscribers.
  • There are very obvious generational gaps between how frequently different groups stream content, with Generation Z being the most prominent consumers in the analysis. Interestingly enough, Cordcutting.com notes, "Across the board, the youngest survey respondents were the most likely to be using another person’s account to watch streaming services, though if they’re paying for anything, Gen Z’ers are most likely to shell out for their own Amazon Prime Video memberships."

Between a rock and a hard place — Cracking down on moochers would be a bad look for these streaming companies. At the moment it would be a PR disaster if Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu were to announce that they were tightening the loose ends around these subscription sharing models — simply because millions of people find themselves caged in under lockdowns and quarantining measures.

Only time will tell just how they plan to keep consumers happy and tackle "borrowers" at the same time without tanking their public image or burning a hole through their budgets.