Nathan Landale

The Technology for The Next Generation

The Disney Plus password-sharing crackdown starts in June
Computer, Gadget & Technology

The Disney Plus password-sharing crackdown starts in June

Disney Plus already has rules in place to prevent subscribers from sharing their passwords — but now we have an idea when it will start making users pay to share them. In an interview on CNBC, Disney CEO Bob Iger says the company plans on “launching our first real foray into password sharing” in June.

Iger says the rollout will start in “just a few countries in a few markets” before expanding to all subscribers in September. Disney’s anti-password sharing rules initially went into effect for new subscribers on January 25th and were rolled out to existing members on March 14th. Netflix became the first streaming service to crack down on password sharing in 2023, as it began charging users an extra $7.99 per month to add an extra viewer outside their household.

During an earnings call in February, Disney’s chief financial officer, Hugh Johnston, confirmed that subscribers “suspected of improper sharing” will see a prompt to sign up for their own subscription this summer. Subscribers will also be able to add members outside their household for an “additional fee,” but Disney still hasn’t provided any details on how much this will cost.

The combined Disney Plus and Hulu app launched late last month as part of Disney’s attempt to nudge more subscribers toward its lucrative streaming bundle. Not only does the newly merged app incorporate content across both services, but it also combines your watch history to better inform recommendations.

“We feel great about the engagement of those Disney subs who are not getting Hulu who are now watching more programs that were on Hulu, including Shogun,” Iger tells CNBC. “We have to increase engagement. We need the technological tools to lower churn, create more stickiness. It’s things like recommendation engines, getting to know our customers better.”

As pointed out by my colleague David Pierce, Disney is also working to “unify identities so that who you are on the Hulu app is connected to who you are on Disney Plus and ESPN and your cable box” — a vital tool for a password-sharing crackdown. Iger has big plans for the company’s streaming business, including a streaming-only version of ESPN, and says it will achieve profitability by the end of this fiscal year. Paid sharing will likely help further this goal.

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