Watching ‘Game of Thrones’ With Your Parents’ Password? You’re Not Alone

A photo illustration of a person on a laptop figuring out what to watch on Netflix.
Tina Russell/ The Penny Hoarder

I’m not big on gifts. I live in an apartment the size of a postage stamp with no room for anything that isn’t a necessity.

So when my older brother asked me what I wanted for my birthday last year, it was easy. I wanted his Netflix password.

For the past few months, I’ve been using his account from about 300 miles away.

I don’t own a TV, but there are still a few shows I like to keep up with like “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “Insecure.” And while I’m not a fan, I know pretty much everyone else in the world will be at home Sunday night to catch the new season of “Game of Thrones.”

All three shows are on HBO, and I don’t pay to watch those either.

Instead, I use my mom’s Xfinity account. While I don’t have access to local networks, like ABC and NBC, I can watch live broadcasts on HBO, HGTV, Food Network and other cable channels she has at home.

I’m Not Alone in My Netflix Password Sharing

My only responsibility? Pay my monthly internet bill. I am a 28-year-old millennial and, according to a new Reuters study, I’m not alone.

Of the people in my age range (25 to 34) who answered a recent survey, 15% said they stream video content with an account and password that belongs to someone they don’t live with.

About 21% of adults between ages 18 and 24 said they use someone else’s account to access streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go.

While younger adults are the most likely to satisfy their entertainment needs by freeloading off an account someone else pays for, about 12% of all people said they did the same.

Honestly, I’m surprised the numbers aren’t even higher.

The Gravy Train Will Keep Running — For Now

If you, like me, are happily saving money on subscription services by not paying for them at all and using someone else’s, you should know those companies are probably aware of what you’re up to.

But stopping you is not at the top of their priority list — at least not yet.

According to Time, HBO Go and Netflix would love it if you’d stop freeloading, but they also know implementing strict usage rules might alienate existing customers. Instead, the companies look at this as a means of advertising their services.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even said a kid who uses a parent’s or sibling’s account is more likely to eventually sign up for an individual account when they are financially able.

Hastings sees password sharing as a way to make sure you know exactly what you will miss if you ever get sick of asking mom for the new password or want something else for you birthday from your older brother.

If the rules changed overnight and suddenly cut my access to my brother’s Netflix and my mom’s cable, I would probably try to tough it out for a bit before I gave in.

Eventually, though, I’d probably pay for HBO Go first and then Netflix. The rest of the cable channels are nice to have for an uneventful Friday night, but I don’t see myself ever paying for cable again.

Desiree Stennett is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. When her birthday comes around this year, she’ll probably ask her brother to get a Hulu account and give up the password to that too.