Disney+ will begin restricting password sharing starting November 1 in Canada. Subscribers in the region received an email stating they’ll soon be prohibited from sharing accounts with people outside their ‘household.’ Household, in this case, refers to the devices associated with a primary personal address used by people living within the same residence. The announcement isn’t quite clear, so the impression I’m getting is that as long as outsiders sign in at the main account holder’s residence, they could qualify as members of the ‘household’? There are no details on how Disney plans to enforce this policy, but it promises to always monitor account activity to see if people are complying with it.
Indeed, if Disney+ realises or believes its users are breaking the rules, access to the streaming platform might get limited or entirely terminated. “You will be responsible for any use of your account by your household, including compliance with this section,” the new agreement reads (via MobileSyrup). During its Q3 2023 earnings call, last month, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that his team was aware that a ‘significant’ number of users had been sharing passwords with friends and family, and that the company has the ‘technical capability’ to monitor those sign-ins. At the time, he alluded that crackdown plans might start sometime in 2024, though now it seems like Disney+ jumped the gun a little.
Interestingly, a phrase on the agreement — “Unless otherwise permitted by your Service Tier” — suggests that certain Disney+ tiers might let you share passwords, after all. Of course, this would be the more expensive tier, which I’m guessing will work similarly to Netflix’s new policies that let users add extra members to their accounts for a higher monthly subscription fee. The latter was among the first major streaming platforms to begin cracking down on account sharing by tracking IP addresses and asking for verification codes every 31 days. For now, it’s unclear if Disney+ will follow the same methods and as to what new subscription plans it might introduce. However, Iger’s primary concern is that once people get booted off someone else’s Disney+ account, how many are willing to become new subscribers and boost revenue for the company?
Despite the initial backlash, the password-sharing crackdown approach seems to have heavily worked in favour of Netflix, which reported a climb of 6 million new subscriptions in July, for a total of 238 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Disney+ has been struggling to maintain its numbers — specifically, the Disney+ Hotstar segment, which lost a staggering 12.5 million subscribers from April to June, dropping from 52.9 million to 40.4 million subscribers. The drop largely had to do with the platform losing the rights to livestream IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket to Viacom18 until 2027. Another contributing factor has to be the removal of all HBO content from Disney+ Hotstar, which caused many on the internet (including me) to question whether the subscription was still worth it.