Disney has announced plans to introduce its own password sharing crackdown plan for Disney Plus – but its arrival could be a long way off yet.
Revealed during the company's Q3 2023 earnings call (transcript provided by The Motley Fool), CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Disney executives were "actively exploring" ways to clamp down on users sharing their accounts with people they don't live with. It's unclear if such a scheme will affect Disney Plus fans only, or if Disney also plans to bring to introduce it on sister streamer Hulu.
While fans are understandably up in arms over the revelation, Disney Plus and Hulu subscribers should temper their anger somewhat. Why? Because Disney's potential clampdown on password sharing sounds like it could be a while off.
When will Disney Plus' password crackdown begin?
Disney hasn't set a firm date for its crackdown on account sharing. However, Iger has suggested it might not arrive before 2025.
Initially, it seemed that Disney would introduce the scheme before the end of 2024. Addressing shareholders during the company's latest investors call, Iger said: "Later this year, we will begin to update our subscriber agreements with additional terms on our sharing policies, and we will roll out tactics to drive monetization sometime in 2024."
When pressed for more information on whether Disney's password crackdown plan would be applied sometime next year, though, Iger indicated that any Netflix-style account sharing scheme may not be implemented for another 16 months.
"In calendar '24, we're going to get at this issue," Iger claimed. "And so while it is likely you'll see some impact in calendar '24, it's possible that we won't be complete or the work will not be completed within the calendar year."
In layman's terms, Iger appears to suggest that Disney will actively work on its password crackdown plan next year. However, based on his final point, its plan might not be executed until 2025.
Of course, much depends on how quickly Disney moves to address account sharing between households. Per its Q3 2023 earnings report, Disney saw direct-to-consumer (DTC) – the industry term for streaming, essentially – operating losses fall from $1.1 billion in Q2 2023 to $500 million over the past three months. That demonstrates Disney is getting a handle on its finances after haemorrhaging money over the past few years. If that trend continues, it may not roll out its crackdown plan for a while longer, enabling us to continue sharing our Disney Plus and/or Hulu accounts with our nearest and dearest.
Will Disney follow through on its password crackdown scheme?
Unfortunately, yes. Iger stipulated that Disney is currently looking at the "best options for paying subscribers to share their accounts with friends and family". While that doesn't confirm the entertainment behemoth will stop users from sharing their passwords with others, it sounds eerily similar to plans that Netflix introduced earlier this year.
In 2022, the world's best streaming service confirmed it would introduce measures to crack down on account sharing between different households before the end of that year. However, Netflix delayed the rollout until May 2023, with the company opting to trial the program in specific countries, such as Spain, Canada, and Brazil in late 2022 first.
For those who want to keep sharing their account with others, Netflix introduced an additional fee – dubbed the "buy an extra member" scheme – to let you do so. US users, though, have to pay an extra $7.99 a month (on top of their monthly fee) for the privilege.
As much as Netflix subscribers wanted to see the scheme fail, though, its password crackdown plan has been a huge success. In its Q2 2023 report, Netflix revealed it had added nearly six million new users since its global rollout. That figure was four times as high as industry estimates, with some outlets claiming Netflix would only boost its fanbase by 1.8 million.
Given the triumphant rollout of Netflix's account sharing crackdown, it was inevitable that other studios would follow suit. Disney will be the next conglomerate to stop people from sharing their passwords with their family and friends, and I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery follow suit for Prime Video and Max.
In short: we should all get used to the fact we'll stop streaming movies and TV shows altogether, or stump up the money to open our own accounts. That's if you're willing to pay for Disney Plus and Hulu after their sizeable price hikes, anyway.
Sign up to receive daily breaking news, reviews, opinion, analysis, deals and more from the world of tech.
As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.
Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.
Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.