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The Disney Plus password crackdown has begun, but no one knows how it works

Published Nov 1st, 2023 10:33AM EDT
I Am Groot is streaming on Disney Plus.
Image: Disney Plus

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After announcing and testing features meant to stop password sharing, Netflix implemented account changes to prevent the phenomenon it had previously encouraged. Netflix tracks account access and issues verification prompts when an account is used outside what it believes to be the authorized household. The password-sharing ban worked, leading to Netflix subscriber growth — in the short term, at least.

Unsurprisingly, Netflix competitors who might have been considering similar moves liked what they saw. Disney was quick to announce that it wants to stop Disney Plus password sharing outside the household.

In late September, Disney changed the language of its Subscriber Agreement for Canada to include new provisions to address Disney Plus password sharing. The new rules would go into effect on November 1st, 2023, Disney said. We’ve reached that deadline. Disney’s crackdown on password sharing is essentially in full effect in Canada. Only, we have no idea what it means or what happens next.

Canadian blog MobileSyrup points out that password sharing restrictions are technically in effect. Here’s what the new agreement has to say about sharing Disney Plus passwords:

Unless otherwise permitted by your Service Tier, you may not share your subscription outside of your household. “Household” means the collection of devices associated with your primary personal residence that are used by the individuals who reside therein. Additional usage rules may apply for certain Service Tiers. For more details on our account sharing policy, please visit our Help Center.

Disney also outlines the possible measures it might take against those people who continue to share passwords:

We may, in our sole discretion, analyze the use of your account to determine compliance with this Agreement. If we determine that you have violated this Agreement, we may limit or terminate access to the Service and/or take any other steps as permitted by this Agreement (including those set forth in Section 6 of this Agreement).

Big Shot season 2 is coming to Disney Plus in October.
Big Shot season 2 is coming to Disney Plus in October. Image source: Disney

It’s unclear what that means, however. If the confusion feels familiar, that’s because Netflix’s early anti-password-sharing effort was similarly strange. It wasn’t clear how Netflix would track account access or how it would inform users of issues. Eventually, Netflix’s moves made sense as the verification prompts started coming in.

So far, Disney doesn’t appear to have started rolling out account verification notifications to users who share Disney Plus passwords. We don’t have any screenshots to show you.

Also, it’s unclear which Service Tiers are allowed to share passwords outside the household. It’s very likely that this provision refers to something similar to Netflix’s Extra Members feature that lets you add people to your account for a fee. But I’m just speculating. As I explained in the past, it might be better to create a brand new paid account than to pay for Extra Members. The same might apply to Disney Plus.

Disney’s help pages for Canada aren’t really helpful. Here’s who can access your Disney Plus account, per the support document:

You may not share your subscription outside of your household. “Household” means the collection of devices associated with your primary personal residence that are used by the individuals who reside therein.

Canada is likely only a test for Disney. It might be some time before the company rolls out similar features to other markets. But I don’t think Disney will change its mind. The password sharing ban is probably here to stay.

I’ll point out that the changes to the Subscriber Agreement only apply to Canada. Disney must update every local agreement before it can start rolling out password sharing bans in other markets.

At the time of this writing, you could still share your password outside the household in Canada without worrying about repercussions. That’s according to MobileSyrup, as the blog saw no changes to the Disney Plus experience in the region.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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