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HBO doesn't plan to haul anyone into court over online password sharing

HBO's CEO said at an event last week that the company knows about password sharing and doesn't sweat it.
HBO's CEO said at an event last week that the company knows about password sharing and doesn't sweat it.Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO

HBO's CEO said at a BuzzFeed Brews event in New York last week that the company knows about their customers' tendency to share HBOGO passwords and doesn't mind it.

“It’s not that we’re unmindful of it, it just has no impact on the business,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler said, calling it a “terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers." He said HBO is in the business of creating addicts and suggested that password sharing could create new subscribers for the future.

The company seems to have taken the polar opposite approach to that of the music industry, which famously dragged teenagers and grandmothers into court over the course of several years, threatening people with jail time and levying enormous fines. Rather than suing or prosecuting password sharers in court, HBO has taken a more pragmatic and circumspect approach.

HBO apparently considers the interlopers not as criminals but as potential customers, whom they hope will become enamored enough of HBO's programming to start paying for it at some point.

The company still requires a standard HBO subscription through cable or satellite to set up an HBOGO account for online and mobile viewing of their movies and television series. However, HBO's lax attitude toward sharing HBOGO accounts may indicate that they look toward the much anticipated day when the company cuts the cord linking HBOGO to a pay TV subscription, making it a standalone, fee-based service.