As streaming services continue to push towards profitability over subscriber growth, many of the studios have begun making changes to discourage people from sharing their streaming service accounts with friends and family. Earlier this year, Netflix implemented new restrictions on people sharing accounts, which has resulted in the company adding millions of new subscribers to its platform, making the company more money.
Unsurprisingly, with Netflix leading the way, many other streaming services are looking to follow suit, and earlier this year, Disney revealed that it was also going to start cracking down on account sharing. Just ahead of the launch of the new Standard tier in many countries around the world and the new ad-supported tier across Europe and Canada, subscribers were sent new terms of service, which stated:
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.
One of the ways Disney is going to enforce its account-sharing rules, is through its “concurrent streaming” limits, which means how people can watch Disney+ at the same time. Disney+ Premium allows for four people to stream at once, while Standard and Standard/Basic With Ads, has a limit of two people at once. Just using this feature alone, will likely result in reduced shared accounts, though Disney hasn’t generally been using this feature before.
The news that Disney was going to begin cracking down on password sharing sent shockwaves across the internet, with many subscribers questioning what this means for them, as the term “household” can be very broad and people wanting to know what if they do a lot of travelling or live in multiple locations.
Many parents have questioned what happens to their children in college or living part-time with a former partner. This has unsettled many subscribers, who have gotten used to being able to have a Disney+ account spread across different devices and households. And then there are just subscribers who share with their friends and families, who have questioned if Disney+ is worth subscribing too, if they all had to pay individually.
However, it looks like Disney+ isn’t fully cracking down on account sharing straight away, as during a recent quarterly investors call, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that the crackdown on account sharing won’t impact as much until 2025, saying:
We have additional opportunities for improvement in our streaming business that will come from implementing stronger standards around account sharing. Although given the timing of our planned rollout, we don’t expect a meaningful impact until 2025. Now that we have realigned our pricing and marketing strategies, focused aggressively on getting the technology right, merged our creative and distribution teams, and restored creative excellence is our singular motivating priority with the content we create. We are bullish about the future of our streaming business.
On face value, hearing that Disney isn’t expecting to see the benefits of cracking down on account sharing until 2025 means that Disney might start focusing on that later in 2024. No doubt, it will be a priority for Disney to do, but with the impending addition of Hulu content into Disney+ in December, ahead of a major relaunch of Disney+ with Hulu in March, it doesn’t look like Disney is fully ready to push the button to possibly frustrate and annoy subscribers, especially when its at a vital point in moving its customers from Hulu and Disney+ together, while also trying to boost the ad-supported tiers to raise more money.
It’s very likely that Disney will be testing out different features regarding sharing accounts in different countries first, to see how people respond, while leaving the US market alone until it completes making Hulu content on Disney+ by March 2024.
So, if you are sharing your account with friends and family, there might not be a reason to act yet, but eventually, Disney is going to want every household to have its own subscription. But with Disney teaming up with more cable and telephone providers to offer the ad-supported version of Disney+ in bundles, more people are going to have access to the platform anyway. Eventually, Disney will likely shift its focus to dealing with the account sharing issue, but right now, they have other things they need to sort out. However, I expect that things are likely to change by the end of next year as Disney push forward with trying to make sure Disney+ is profitable by the end of 2024.
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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.