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F-Secure survey - The UK, a nation of freeloaders when it comes to streaming accounts

October 2020 by F-Secure

Keep your friends close, but your passwords closer, as the UK is officially a nation of freeloaders, with more than a third of Brits (36%) willing to steal the details to your favourite streaming services if given the chance.

The research*, commissioned by cybersecurity experts F-Secure, reveals that, while Brits have become accustomed to socially distancing, we are less cautious when it comes to mixing our streaming subscriptions. When asked, 42% of Brits said they share streaming services with between one to three people, including those outside of their own household such as colleagues and former partners, with 37% of people getting their online content through a mix of their own subscriptions and using shared access through someone else’s account.

While account sharing for streaming services is commonplace, the consequences of doing so are slim to none, especially when as many as 129,000 people were prosecuted for not having a TV licence in 2018, leading to fines of up to £750.

The research goes on to show the UK’s most shared streaming services:

1. Netflix - 18% have free access via someone else’s account
2. Amazon Prime - 14%
3. Disney+ - 12%
=3. Spotify - 12%
=5. NowTV - 10%
=5. Apple Music - 10%
=7. Audible - 8%
=7. Xbox GamePass - 8%
9. Apple TV - 7%

Netflix users are the freeloader kings

The research reveals that Netflix has the biggest freeloading problem, with 18% of Brits admitting to using someone else’s login and nearly half (49%) doing this for more than a year. To add insult to injury, a whopping 70% of Brits don’t feel guilty about freeloading off of a Netflix account - this is almost three times as much compared to other services like Spotify, Apple TV and Disney+. The same number (70%) also don’t feel guilty about freeloading off of the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, when it comes to sharing an Amazon Prime subscription. However, strangely, as many as 26% do feel guilty freeloading off of Apple TV - from the richest company in the world - and Rupert Murdoch’s NowTV (21%).

While the executives at Netflix have no doubt considered ways of preventing sharing, they might want to think twice before doing so, as over a quarter (26%) of Brits would cancel their subscription outright if they couldn’t share it with someone else.

While Netflix dominates for the moment, it might not do so for very long: 67% of users who pay for their own subscription to Apple TV are sharing their login details with at least one other person, making the relatively new streaming service a hotbed of freeloading.

Tom Gaffney, (Principal) Consultant for F-Secure’s Consumer Security comments: “There’s a good chance the majority of us have lent or borrowed a username and password for an online service at some point, without giving it much thought. It’s easy to do and usually you’re sharing that information with someone you know and trust. However, there’s a bigger issue at play: the inherent cybersecurity risk of sharing details far and wide means that there’s a higher probability of those passwords being compromised and exposed to cybercrime.

“Users should ensure that they’re limiting the spread of their passwords; using two-factor authentication wherever possible; and make each password strong and unique to ensure that access to one account doesn’t also mean access to several others. We know that creating and managing multiple strong and unique passwords is tricky, which is why we’ve launched our Identity Protection product, to help users stay safe online while removing the hassle of juggling several passwords at once.

Sex (Education) with the ex?

While streaming services are commonly shared among friends, family and even colleagues, Brits are also freeloading off of their ex-partner’s login details, with 3% of Brits are still using their exes’ Netflix accounts. With 12.4m Netflix subscribers in the UK, that equates to a massive 370,000 scorned lovers drowning their sorrows in some of Netflix’s hit original series likes Sex Education and Love.

The numbers are similarly high for Disney+ which, despite only launching in the UK in March, has amassed over 4.3m subscribers; with 5% still keeping hold of their exes’ account details, over 215,000 scorned lovers finding comfort in their Disney favourites.

Selection of most popular platforms used by scorned lovers

1. Netflix - 370,000
2. Disney+ - 215,000
3. Prime - 158,000
4. NowTV - 96,000

Rishi more trustworthy than Boris Johnson

With the sharing of passwords commonplace, there is an inherent cybersecurity risk to consider. When asked which celebrity they’d most entrust with their login details, Holly Willoughby, star of ITV’s This Morning, came out on top with 20% of the vote. Interestingly, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, was seen as more trustworthy than his boss, Prime Minister Boris Johnson (11% to 9%).

*Research conducted in September 2020 by Vitreous World on behalf of F-Secure, surveying 2,000 people across the United Kingdom, aged 18 to 65+.

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