In a move that likely to anger and frustrate some viewers, the ABC has confirmed it will soon require all users of its iview streaming platform to create login passwords to access the service.
While the ABC has been pushing users towards setting up user profiles for the past 12 months, this latest policy change will make a login password compulsory for all users.
Under the new login process, users will be asked to submit their First Name, Email Address, Year of Birth, Postcode and Gender before being allowed to watch video content.
Users will have the option of using a pseudonym instead of submitting their first name and can also select “prefer not to say” for the gender option. Users will also have the option of creating a “sub-account” for young viewers
In a blog post published last night on the ABC website, the broadcaster indicated it is implementing this policy to provide a better experience for viewers and to better compete for viewer attention in the increasingly competitive streaming market.
The audience data will be used to allow viewers to easily resume viewing their favourite programs on different devices. The data will also allow the ABC to use artificial intelligence to provide customised viewer recommendations of content that might otherwise be hard to discover on the platform
While the ABC has stressed it is not collecting user information for advertising purposes on its own platforms, the government broadcast has admitted that users’ personal information could be shared with third-party tech platforms, including Google and Facebook, unless users expressly request the ABC keep their personal data private.
The ABC regularly pays to promote its content via Google and Facebook ads, and the sharing of this data could be used to better target these marketing campaigns.
Explaining the new policy, the ABC’s Head of Digital product Joel Brydon said:
“Providing suburb or postcode doesn’t mean users will only get content relevant to their area; year of birth will allow the ABC to better protect those under 15 years from inappropriate content, and the gender question ensures a better understanding of the composition of ABC audiences,”
While the ABC is the last of Australia’s streaming catchup platforms to implement a login process, it is also the only platform that is not supported by advertising content.