Hulu is officially following in the footsteps of corporate sibling Disney+ and streaming giant Netflix by implementing restrictions on the sharing of accounts and subscriber passwords.
The move has been expected for several months. Last summer, Disney CEO Bob Iger told Wall Street analysts during an earnings call that the company “will begin to update our subscriber agreements with additional terms and our sharing policies.” Flagship streamer Disney+ began the process last year, and this month started rolling out changes on Hulu.
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Hulu’s new account sharing terms will apply as of January 25 for new subscribers, the company explained in a note to subscribers. For prior and existing subscribers, the terms will take effect on March 14, 2024, unless they acknowledge an in-app notice of these changes earlier than that time.
The streaming service is “adding limitations on sharing your account outside of your household, and explaining how we may assess your compliance with these limitations,” the notice said. It is also “updating aspects of our dispute resolution policies.”
Disney has not offered any estimates for the impact of the policy changes on subscriber levels. In the case of Netflix, the company has seen better-than-expected results of its “paid password” initiative, in part because of the simultaneous rollout of its $7-a-month advertising tier. Overall subscriber levels have grown steadily in recent quarters as the new password policy has rolled out. Wall Street analysts have called paid password sharing a multi-billion-dollar revenue opportunity, noting that Netflix and other streamers once encouraged sharing with a wink, but changed their stance once streaming matured.
Wall Street is looking closely at Disney’s streaming business, with the company having reaffirmed its forecast for profitability by the end of fiscal 2024.
The company included an upbeat note in its outreach to customers. “We are as committed as ever to making sure you have an enjoyable streaming experience,” it said.
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