Charter enlists Fox in its war against password sharing

Charter's updated logo
Charter reached a similar agreement with Disney earlier this year. (Charter)

Charter has found another media ally in its fight against online video piracy, enlisting Fox to help with implementing business rules to address unauthorized access to content.

The announcement accompanied today’s news that Charter and Fox have reached a new multi-year distribution agreement that covers Fox Television Stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2, BTN, and Fox Deportes. The agreement also includes video-on-demand and TV Everywhere rights for those networks so Charter subscribers to watch Fox programming live and on-demand through the Fox NOW, Fox Sports and Fox News apps.

"This agreement allows continued access to all of the Fox programming for our customers and Fox viewers, but it will also amplify our mutual efforts to address piracy and abusive password sharing issues. We appreciate Fox’s desire to further collaborate as the video landscape continues to evolve,” said Tom Montemagno, executive vice president of programming acquisition for Charter, in a statement.

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The anti-piracy portion of Charter’s new Fox deal comes after the provider in August agreed to similar terms with Disney.

“This agreement will allow Spectrum to continue delivering to its customers popular Disney content, makes possible future distribution by Spectrum of Disney streaming services, and will begin an important collaborative effort to address the significant issue of piracy mitigation,” Montemagno said.

The deals with Disney and Fox could signal an escalation of Charter’s efforts to combat password sharing. According to a years-old report from Bloomberg, Charter during contract negotiations was encouraging programmers to limit concurrent streams and to force pay TV subscribers to log in more often. The report also portrayed Disney as an ally in the fight against password sharing.

Charter CEO Tom Rutledge has a history of railing against password sharing and a perceived lack of content security for TV Everywhere and direct-to-consumer apps.

"A lot of the TV Everywhere product and other product available online is not secured well," said Rutledge during a company earnings call in 2015. "You have people joking about sharing passwords on authentication on Emmy award shows. That's a real issue."

During a Charter’s earnings call earlier this year, Rutledge doubled down.

“The problem with the bundle of video today is that the content companies that supply it have essentially put their service for free, available everywhere, through TV Everywhere and excessive streams and password sharing and free over-the-air television, which can be received through antennas, all of which are unencrypted and essentially free. And it’s hard to compete with free,” said Rutledge, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

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