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Behavioral Biometrics: Maturing the Controls Around Streaming

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Last year set a record for new streaming subscriptions, with an increase of 217.6 million in Q3 compared to the same period the previous year. While driven largely by the pandemic, these high subscription growth rates have resulted in a streaming boom that will only grow over coming years.

But this boom for streaming services has also highlighted some of the issues that many of them have yet to tackle, the biggest of which is “seats” management on user accounts. Currently, users can log on to platforms from a maximum of three devices. However, this doesn’t stop them from sharing their account details with friends and families who can use those extra seats for free.

According to Citi equity analyst Jason Bazinet, the habit of sharing online passwords to streaming and other subscription video-on-demand services amounts to about $25 billion in lost revenue for U.S. companies.

While this is common practice among users, for streaming giants, it has a huge financial consequence. But how can organizations tackle this--when they finally decide to--and how can they accomplish this without damaging customer experience?

Contextual Data

One way to overcome this challenge is through behavioral biometrics, as the technology makes it possible to ensure it is the paying user logging on through any of their devices to the service. This type of cybersecurity will also enable streaming organizations to spot families who are using the service through one account by identifying their location and offer them an upgrade to a family package instead.

Behavioral biometrics considers millions of contextual data points when verifying if the user is genuine. So, even when a user is in an unusual location--on holiday or a business trip, for example--how they use and swipe their phone can be used to positively identify them. That means streaming services won’t need to worry about accidentally blocking the paying user just because they’re somewhere different.


Behavioral biometrics is a passive form of authentication technology, meaning it doesn’t add friction to the user journey. Data such as typing speed and pressure when inputting a username and password are analyzed in real time, so no extra steps are required (as they are with physical biometrics).

As a result, behavioral biometrics can be useful at any point in the consumer's journey, meaning users don’t have to prove themselves every time they log into their streaming services because the technology will automatically detect who they are.

Protecting Privacy

By its very nature, behavioral biometrics is a privacy-preserving, non-intrusive way to authenticate users, as it uses the contextual data points of a consumer’s behavior to authenticate an individual’s identity and their data can be obfuscated. It is a less intrusive way of recognizing users compared to fingerprints or facial recognition. And with privacy being such a hot topic, creating this digital trust with their users will benefit the streaming services in the long run.

Streamers Swipe to Safety

Regulating access to streaming services without breaking the user trust could be challenging. We all know that users are sharing their logins with their friends and family. However, this will become increasingly financially damaging for streaming services as their growth will eventually stagnate, especially as the market becomes more saturated.

With the number of new services joining the market every year, organizations need to find ways to turn those free seats into paying ones, and this will only become more of a priority with time.

Therefore, it’s an issue that needs to be handled with the utmost care, and behavioral biometrics gives companies the opportunity to resolve this challenge without creating friction with consumers or risking their privacy.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from Callsign. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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