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Disney already knows if you’re sharing your streaming account

The Disney World castle as seen in the Disney+ streaming app.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Along with a number of price increases, the other big news to come out of Disney’s (fiscal) third-quarter earnings report was that the company is taking a serious look at account sharing — password sharing, if you will — and will begin to crack down on it in 2024.

In other words, it’s going to do what Netflix has done, and it’s time to pay up. But we don’t yet know exactly what that will look like.

“We’re actively exploring ways to address account sharing, And the best options for paying subscribers to share their accounts with friends and family,” CEO Bob Iger said. And you have to appreciate that positive spin. You’ll be given the option to share your account, so long as you pay to do it.

Iger wouldn’t say how many accounts Disney believes are allowing double-dipping, only that “it’s significant.” By way of context, Netflix — which has nearly twice as many paid subscribers worldwide as Disney+ — said 100,000 accounts were sharing passwords when it began to crack down on the practice and instead offer account holders a way to pay extra (but less than a full account) to allow someone who doesn’t reside at the same home to use the account.

And what’s more: Disney has a pretty good idea who’s allowing their logins to be used elsewhere.

“We already have the technical capability to monitor much of this,” Iger said on the earnings call.

There are a lot of details to be worked out, and Iger said there’s a good chance that whatever Disney decides to do, it might not be completely finished until 2025, but that subscribers should look for the scheme to begin in 2024. Another of those details is whether the account-sharing crackdown would extend to Hulu and ESPN+, which also fall under the Disney umbrella. (We wouldn’t bet against it.)

No matter the details, it’s all about the money, and getting those who aren’t paying, but probably should be to become revenue-generating customers. (Netflix, for what it’s worth, has said its scheme works.)

“What we don’t know, of course, as we get to work on this, is how much of the password sharing, as we basically eliminate it, will convert to growth and subs,” Iger said. “Obviously, we believe there will be some, but we’re not speculating.”

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Phil Nickinson
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