Just another student spending time with the coolest one on campus, i.e. Netflix (Photo: Mel Melcon/Getty)

In news that could bring a single tear of economic envy rolling down the cheeks of the nation’s orphans and friendless, it looks like Netflix is again winning the streaming service battle even as it struggles to get paid, son. Mashable reports a survey conducted by LendEDU is saying an overwhelming 92 percent of college kids have access to and use the streaming site. That’s a higher percentage of students than basically any other statistic, anywhere, for anything, including “percentage who have seen a Transformers film and regret it,” which is a very high number, indeed. But before Netflix starts buying yet another airplane hangar full of Fabergé eggs, it may want to look more closely at the numbers: Less than half of those surveyed pay for their own account.

It may stride the earth as a colossus when stacked against every other comparable service in terms of usage, but Netflix is missing out on some serious cheddar when it comes to pocketing the financial rewards of its ubiquity. Sure, 34 percent of students report having their own account, but the vast majority (54 precent) say they use either a friend or family member’s account, with another five percent using a current or past significant other’s account. And yes, that leaves eight percent of students saying they don’t have Netflix at all, but God, let’s ignore those weirdos, as the rest of their fellow students rightly should.


Given a hypothetical situation in which they were forced to choose only one streaming service, 84 percent said they would choose Netflix, albeit without the caveat of being forced to also decide whether they’d keep the same answer if they have to pay for it themselves. HBO Go was a distant second with 12 percent, the equivalent of trying out for the ultimate frisbee league after failing to make the Division One football team. Four percent even gave Hulu the thumbs up, and while Amazon didn’t factor into the survey (perhaps the lead surveyor has left a few ”Total fail F++ will not do business again” reviews?), let’s assume it could’ve at least gotten a couple percent of kids to throw it a pity vote.

The study then goes on to make a bold claim about the revenue loss from people sharing accounts like this, after estimating the number of millennials not paying for Netflix while using it to be around 45.1 million: “With the assumption that those 45,106,680 millennials would pay for a $7.99 per month subscription, it can be liberally estimated that Netflix and its investors are losing more than $4 billion from millennials cheating the system.” Did you notice the logical flaw there? It goes, “With the assumption that those…would pay.” If they seriously think people would immediately start paying for something they currently get for free, were the circumstances forced upon them, we’d like to introduce these researchers to the good people at American Online.