Disney has new account-sharing policies and it plans to enforce them by implementing a fee for Disney Plus streaming customers later this year. CFO Hugh Johnston announced the move during the company’s first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday. The news comes after the media giant updated its subscriber agreements for Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus.
Continuing a trend kicked off by Netflix last year, Disney’s password crackdown will start this summer. “Beginning this summer, Disney Plus accounts suspected of improper sharing will be presented with new capabilities to allow their borrowers to start their own subscriptions,” said Johnston. “Later this calendar year, account holders who want to allow access to individuals from outside their household will be able to add them to their accounts for an additional fee.”
Last week, subscribers began receiving emails that detailed changes to user agreements for each platform. Subscribers may not share their accounts with anyone outside their primary household residence, unless it’s permitted for their tier, according to Disney’s terms. The agreement says the company may check for compliance by reviewing your usage habits and choosing to “limit or terminate access.” The policy went into effect on Jan. 25 for new users and begins on March 14 for existing customers.
CEO Bob Iger first shared plans to address account sharing in August, saying it would be a priority in 2024 for its global subscriber base. He added that the move would support the company’s efforts to increase monetization in the new year. Disney began its crackdown in Canada first and unveiled new rules in November.
By comparison, Netflix charges $8 for each “extra member” subaccount, with limits on how many people can be added to a Premium or Standard subscription. Though the streamer experienced early backlash about the change, it helped drive its subscriber numbers up. Some former password borrowers signed up for their own accounts — such as its $7 ad-based plan.
Disney is evolving its streaming business in other ways. The company is launching its Hulu on Disney Plus single-app option next month and on Tuesday announced a joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox to create a new sports streaming service.