Hulu and Disney+ subscribers have until March 14 to stop sharing their login information with people outside of their household. Disney-owned streaming services are the next to adopt the password-crackdown strategy that has helped Netflix add millions of subscribers.
An email sent from “The Hulu Team” to subscribers this week and viewed by Ars Technica tells customers that Hulu is “adding limitations on sharing your account outside of your household.”
Hulu’s subscriber agreement, updated on January 25, now states that users may not share their subscription outside of their household, with household being defined as the “collection of devices associated with your primary personal residence that are used by the individuals who reside therein.”
The updated terms also note that Hulu might scrutinize user accounts to ensure that the accounts aren’t being used on devices located outside of the subscriber’s residence:
Section 6 of Hulu’s subscriber agreement says Hulu can “restrict, suspend, or terminate” access without notice.
Hulu didn’t respond to a request for comment on how exactly it will “analyze the use” of accounts. But Netflix, which started its password crackdown in March 2022 and brought it to the US in May 2023, says it uses “information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity to determine whether a device signed in to your account is part of your Netflix Household” and doesn’t collect GPS data from devices.
According to the email sent to Hulu subscribers, the policy will apply immediately to people subscribing to Hulu from now on.
The updated language in Hulu’s subscriber agreement matches what’s written in the Disney+/ESPN+ subscriber agreement, which was also updated on January 25. Disney+’s password crackdown first started in November in Canada.
A Disney spokesperson confirmed to Ars Technica that Disney+ subscribers have until March 14 to comply. The rep also said that notifications were sent to Disney+’s US subscribers yesterday; although, it’s possible that some subscribers didn’t receive an email alert, as is the case with a subscriber in my household.
The representative didn’t respond to a question asking how Disney+ will “analyze” user accounts to identify account sharing.
Push for Profits
Disney CEO Bob Iger first hinted at a Disney streaming-password crackdown in August during an earnings call. He highlighted a “significant” amount of password sharing among Disney-owned streaming services and said Disney had “the technical capability to monitor much of this.” The executive hopes a password crackdown will help drive subscribers and push profits to Netflix-like status. Disney is aiming to make its overall streaming services business profitable by the end of 2024.
In November, it was reported that Disney+ had lost $11 billion since launching in November 2019. The streaming service has sought to grow revenue by increasing prices and encouraging users to join its subscription tier with commercials, which is said to bring streaming services higher average revenue per user than non-ad plans.