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The moocher's guide to cutting the cable cord

Jared Newman | Dec. 15, 2014
So you got rid of cable, but now you're going through withdrawal. If you're willing to bend the rules, you might be able to rely on the generosity of loved ones willing to share passwords.

So you finally told your cable company to take a running leap at a rolling donut. Congratulations, you're free! And you have a little more disposable income to boot. Oh, but now you're feeling the pain of withdrawal; you're tired of the office loudmouth spoiling entire seasons of your favorite shows.

Here's some good news. If you're willing to bend the rules, you might be able to rely on the generosity of loved ones willing to their share passwords.

While services like Netflix and HBO Go don't exactly encourage password sharing, they haven't aggressively attacked the practice either. For that reason, the password-sharing phenomenon is well-documented, even if it is legally and perhaps morally questionable.

For those who have no qualms with sharing online service accounts, it can still be hard to figure out exactly what the risks and limitations are, probably because TV providers don't always offer clear guidance. Here's what I've been able to gather:

Standalone streaming services

Netflix allows up to two concurrent streams on its typical $9 per month plan. An $8 per month plan limits you to a single stream in standard definition, while a $12 per month plan allows four streams in Ultra HD (but Mac and PC users should take note of this story). Netflix's terms of use say that the "Account Owner should not reveal the password to anyone [emphasis mine, since "should" could be interpreted as a suggestion, not a rule]."

Hulu Plus allows only one stream at a time. But at least the company's terms of service are up-front about it: "...your Hulu Plus account is limited to only one simultaneous stream at a time."

Amazon Prime Instant Video permits two concurrent streams of different videos, but only one stream at a time for the same video, per the company's usage rules. Also, keep in mind that the same Prime login is good for purchases from Amazon's online store, so password sharing here requires a lot of trust.

MLB.TV cautions that "you may be prevented from logging in to your account" if other people are using it at the same time. But many users reportsuccess with splitting a single account. Those reports conflict, however, on what the actual concurrent stream limit is.

NBA League Passexplicitly forbids password sharing in its terms of service, which also state that the NBA "may prohibit more than one Service log-in using your account at any given time." Users have reported mixed results with password sharing here.

NHL Gamecenterdoesn't say on its FAQ page whether there's a limit on concurrent streams. Many users on Reddit and other forums say they get kicked out when trying to use more than one device at a time, but others say they've had no problems..


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