Netflix, Spotify, Amazon… Do you save money by sharing your subscription with strangers, a permanent solution?

The trend is towards sharing: carpooling, colocation, coworking… So why not co-subscribe? The principle is of course not new: sharing your Netflix codes with friends or family is a fairly widespread practice. Since any savings are good to take at a time when inflation is tightening the wallet, young entrepreneurs have decided to surf the phenomenon and offer solutions that facilitate the process of accessing cheaper subscriptions.

Many “subscription Blablacars” have thus arisen, such as Spliit, diivii or Sharesub, on the French side. Their proposition is simple and largely the same: easily share subscription costs by connecting subscription holders with fellow subscribers. Once the account is created, the user has access to hundreds of shared subscriptions: music streaming, video on demand, video games, software, e-commerce, Cloud services or even wellness and education.

Subscription holders can choose to share it privately, with other platform members they know personally, or publicly with strangers. This last choice is also the most popular. A user can use the platform in both directions, by sharing his subscription and by subscribing to another offer as a co-subscriber. If the account owner wishes to remove their offer, they must do so 30 days in advance. Co-subscribers can cancel their subscription at any time.


Spliiit, the little Frenchman who annoys Netflix, Apple and Disney

And users can make real savings. A subscription to Spotify Premium (9.99 euros per month in individual subscription) costs only 3.15 euros per month on a platform like Spliiit. By taking four services, Netflix, Spotify, PlayStation Plus and Amazon Prime, instead of paying 575.54 euros per year by subscribing individually, you pay only 145.80 euros per year by joining joint subscriptions through diivii.

The platforms are remunerated directly on subscription shares thanks to a commission paid by co-subscribers of 5% of the monthly amount (+ 35 cents per subscription for Spliiit and + 20 cents per subscription for diivii). At Sharesub, the commission is 4.5%, to which you must add 0.39 euros per payment.

Attractive but legal?

But can the model of these start-ups last long? This participating subscription system appears to take advantage of legal inaccuracies regarding account sharing. In the general terms of use of Netflix, Canal+ or Spotify, it is clear that sharing between people outside the home is prohibited.

This is what shared subscription services remind us of by encouraging their users to share access within the same household. They thus protect themselves legally by stating that their activities are nothing more than “intermediation”. A way for them to exploit the remaining gray areas, especially through the difficulty of defining what a “home” or a “limited family circle” is.

According to Maître Alain Bensoussan, lawyer in digital law, “it is difficult to say that this is unacceptable from a criminal point of view. But at the civil level, the platforms cannot ignore the publishers’ general conditions of use”. For him, it is a “breach of contract clauses” . Maître Antoine Cheron, lawyer in the field of intellectual property rights, for his part, warns against the damage that the sharing of subscriptions inflicts on the rights holders (artists, authors, etc.). “Basically, streaming platforms are doing very well financially. But at the end of the chain is it the artists who get hurt, once again”, he says.


Spotify will raise the price of its subscriptions

For Netflix, account sharing will be difficult to tolerate as the American continues to lose subscribers. On October 18, 2022, the company announced that it wanted to make it chargeable thanks to a solution that it will test in 2023. This would involve billing a few euros per month for each additional user of the same subscription.

In their pursuit of shared accounts, Netflix, Apple and Disney have engaged in a legal battle against Spliiit, which won the first round in March at the High Court of Paris. Guillaume Lochard, co-founder of the startup, says he is “very confident” about the rest of the procedure. “It’s mostly a question of money,” he slips to Kapitalen. “They’ve always allowed account sharing outside of the home. Now they’re looking for ways to take advantage of those subscriptions.” According to him, the publishers, who were often quite hesitant at first, increasingly understand that their interests are at stake. “The Americans are pragmatic: they know that they are allowed to attract new customers. They therefore have no interest in punishing us”, he confides, before confirming: “We are in the direction of history and they understand that.”

So most platforms are turning a blind eye to this practice, for now. Too often they find their account there, according to the founders of diivii. “It’s a win-win. Co-subscription allows many users to get out of piracy, thanks to more accessible prices”, they say. A way, according to them, to retain users and reach a goal that would not have considered subscribe without the possibility of sharing the cost. And faced with Netflix’s decision to charge a surcharge to users who share their subscription, diivii, which expects a price increase of 1.50 euros, believes that its offer will be “always more interesting “.


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