The UK government is looking to make a change to a new Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, to introduce a new 14-day cooling-off period for digital subscription services such as Disney+ and Netflix, which would allow new users to cancel their subscriptions within two weeks, without having to pay.
Disney has raised concerns to the Lords Communications and Digital Committee, about how this new rule would raise major issues for streaming services like Disney+, pushing prices higher.
“The combination of the market imperatives, consumer preferences, our practice of providing timely and clear notice of the recurring fee and the ease of terminating the agreement should obviate the need for mandated renewal notices.
The current rules are that streaming services are required to send “reminder notices” to customers every six months to remind them that they are subscribed, and Disney said that it already provides “timely and clear notice” of a recurring fee and makes it easier for users to cancel their contract than subscribe in the first place. And Disney is also stating that sending any more reminder messages has a counterproductive effect because it will make subscribers more likely to ignore the emails they receive and should limit the reminder notices to other business sectors which don’t allow people to unsubscribe.
“At a minimum, it obviates the need for the micro-managing of how and when these notices should be sent, which is a serious flaw in the draft bill that fails to recognise that it could lead to consumer’s ignoring notices.”
Disney is worried that this new legislation will see people trying to “game” the system to watch the content on the streaming platform without paying, allowing them to binge all the content they want to watch, and then cancel, resulting in price hikes for loyal customers.
“This would allow these bad actors to benefit from our service without compensation to the detriment of the vast majority of good actors as it could likely result in a price increase given the reduction in the subscriber base and the high cost of producing high-quality content’
Disney isn’t the only streaming service raising these concerns, as COBA, which is a trade body that includes Sky, Fox and NBCUniversal, has also said the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill is “overly prescriptive.”
The UK government’s Department for Business & Trade said in a reply:
“Our new Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill will boost competition in online markets that are currently dominated by a small number of firms – delivering on our commitment to grow the economy by increasing consumer choice and accelerating innovation.”
The streaming industry is continuously changing, and extra legislation is likely always to be opposed by major corporations, but requiring a free period for subscription services will likely result in more people trying to watch content for free. Especially, if they are only interested in a small selection of new titles. Many streaming services do offer a free trial, but currently, Disney+ no longer does.
Do you think Disney+ should offer a free trial? 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.