Last week, in its second-quarter earnings report, Netflix announced that it had reached 65.6 million subscribers worldwide. More than 42 million of those viewers are in the U.S., meaning that there's more than one Netflix subscription for every three households in the country.
But how many more could it have? Just because someone is watching Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards doesn't mean that they're paying $8 a month to do it — the company makes it easy to sign multiple people in to a single account. According to some analysts, streaming companies that allow account sharing might be leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.
BuzzFeed News asked readers about their sharing habits, and nearly 75,000 people voted. Bear in mind that this poll was in no way scientific. Take it for what it is: a large sampling of BuzzFeed readers who self-reported their habits in a BuzzFeed News poll designed to be entertaining.
The largest number of respondents were, in fact, using their own accounts.
According to the poll, more than 40% of the respondents — about 31,000 people — are shelling out for their own account, and almost a third are at least keeping things in the family. Only around 10% are using the account information of a friend.
These top three results were consistent with results for HBO Go and Hulu, although poll response rates were far lower for those other streaming services.
And about 7% of respondents were mooching off a girlfriend or boyfriend.
After the boyfriends and girlfriends were accounted for, though, the votes dropped precipitously. Other potential answers only accounted for a small portion of the poll. One thing that sticks out is that it's very rare for an account to be registered to someone who isn't connected to viewers IRL — so all those anecdotal stories about someone using the password of a friend's aunt's ex-husband don't seem to translate into common practice.
The second poll question asked account holders who they share login info with.
When it comes to streaming, family comes first by a significant margin. Half of the readers polled share their accounts with family members. After that, the most popular option is keeping it to themselves, before, interestingly, sharing with multiple friends rather than just one.
Brendan Klinkenberg is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Brendan Klinkenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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