As Disney looks to make its streaming platform, Disney+, more profitable, it is going to be following the route set out by Netflix, in clamping down on account sharing, aka password sharing. Earlier this year, Bob Iger, stated that they were “actively exploring ways to address account sharing and the best options for paying subscribers to share their accounts with friends and family”.
On November 1st 2023, Disney will launch a new ad-supported tier in select markets across Europe and Canada. To go alongside the launch of the ad-supported tier, Disney+ will have two other new ad-free tiers available, Standard and Premium. Currently, all subscribers in Canada and Europe are on the Premium tier. One of the major differences between Standard and Premium is how many concurrent streams you can have at once, aka how many people can stream Disney+ at once. Both the ad-supported and Standard tiers are only going to offer two concurrent streams at once, which will be one way how Disney is planning to restrict how many people can use a Disney+ at once.
Here’s a look at the new tiers:
Standard with Ads
Exclusive Originals and Library Content
Up to Full HD 1080p
Up to Full HD 1080p
Up to 4K UHD & HDR
5.1 and Stereo
5.1 and Stereo
Bob Iger also said, “Later this year, we will begin to update our subscriber agreements with additional terms on our sharing policies, and we will roll out tactics to drive monetization sometime in 2024.” Those subscriber agreements are now being sent out to Disney+ subscribers in Canada ahead of the launch of the new tiers in November, which gives further detail on how Disney+ will start to restrict password sharing:
Account Sharing. Unless otherwise permitted by your Service Tier, you may not share your subscription outside of your household. “Household” means the collection of devices associated with your primary personal residence that are used by the individuals who reside therein. Additional usage rules may apply for certain Service Tiers.
We may, in our sole discretion, analyze the use of your account to determine compliance with this Agreement. If we determine that you have violated this Agreement, we may limit or terminate access to the Service and/or take any other steps as permitted by this Agreement (including those set forth in Section 6 of this Agreement).
You will be responsible for any use of your account by your household, including compliance with this section.
Disney+ has always had a sharing account policy in its contract, and the four concurrent streams at once rules have been in place since the streaming platform initially launched in 2019. However, it didn’t enforce it. But it’s going to start doing.
Disney’s official FAQ in many countries does also follow a similar wording:
You may not share your subscription outside of your household. ‘Household’ means the collection of devices associated with your primary personal residence that are used by the people who live there.
The new enforcement is less complicated than Netflix’s recent attempt to restrict password sharing, which offered an alternative add-on. The Disney+ rules are much simpler, Disney+ can only be used by devices associated with a primary address. Obviously, this isn’t going to be ideal for every family, since some families are spread over multiple households. It doesn’t specifically mention how this new rule will work with travelling, though it would be logical to expect that would still be permitted since your primary residence hasn’t changed. It’s also questionable how this could impact students living away for some time of the year.
Unfortunately, we don’t know how strict Disney’s new enforcement will be. The concurrent stream rule is probably going to be the easiest for them to enable to begin with. It will also likely be looking at other data, such as device IDS and IP addresses of those using the service. Other options include prompting for the password or for a security passcode via email more regularly, especially if it’s from a new location.
Netflix successfully restricted the amount of password sharing going on, pulling in over 6 million new subscribers, though it did initially result in a backlash from users. Ultimately, the streamers will look at anyone who refuses to sign up as someone who wasn’t a paying customer anyway. With Disney+ teaming up with cable providers like Spectrum and mobile phone providers, more people are likely to be getting the ad-supported tier version of Disney+ in the future, plus Disney is trying to actively push existing and new subscribers to its ad-supported tiers, where it makes more money.
Other streaming services are also looking to reduce password sharing to improve profits. The days of one family member subscribing to a service and letting all their family and friends have access to it, are coming to an end. If you do have a friend or family member using your Disney+ account, its probably going to be worth mentioning that things are changing and preparing them for the change.
Disney will have to make these changes carefully. If it’s too strict, it could backfire and cause some to become frustrated, resulting in them unsubscribing. But also, with the streaming services being too lenient in the past, it has created a culture where password sharing between friends and family has become normalised. Password sharing is going to become much harder to do ultimately.
What do you think of Disney cracking down on password sharing? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.