Netflix set out to eliminate password sharing this year, and while the crackdown is far from finished, the media giant is winning over its rival streaming services.
Despite the initial anger from viewers, Netflix saw an explosion of new signups once it began charging U.S. customers extra to share passwords. In June, reports said subscriptions had surpassed what they were during pandemic lockdowns.
Netflix’s success creates an attractive – and achievable – path for the majority of streaming platforms trying to find the balance between making money and retaining viewers. With Disney+ and YouTube Premium shoring up plans to stop password sharing, it’s likely more streaming services will follow suit in the near future.
YouTube Premium is the latest streamer to start restricting accounts that share passwords. Reddit users have reported being contacted by the Google-owned video site. The email lets customers know that they’re suspected of password sharing and if the owner doesn’t agree to stop sharing, YouTube will lock their Premium subscription for 14 days.
YouTube has also been ramping up its attack on ad-blockers, which violate the platform’s terms of service. Google has already seen results, reporting YouTube’s third quarter ad-revenue for 2023 at $7.95 billion, compared with $7.07 billion a year earlier.
Disney’s path to password sharing elimination might be a bit more complicated.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company would start cracking down on password sharing, but there wouldn’t be any “meaningful impact” until 2025. This is likely due to the media giant’s plans to roll Disney+ and Hulu into one app. A beta is set to release in December and a hard launch is planned for March 2024. In addition, Disney is working on a direct-to-consumer version of ESPN that’s slated to roll out in 2025.
It’ll be interesting to see how potential future restrictions play out for Disney since the company’s plate is more than full for the foreseeable future.
Password sharing isn’t allowed by policy of most – if not all – streaming apps, but until recently, the common, and once seemingly innocent, practice was mostly overlooked.
A number of services, including Netflix, previously said they weren’t bothered by it. More users, after all, meant more chances for an original show or film to hit the popular zeitgeist. But as the streaming services have switched their focus to prioritize profitability over customer growth, expect more players to consider their own password sharing crackdown.
Not everyone will be moving in that direction soon. Paramount CEO Bob Bakish, for example, said he doesn’t foresee taking action on password sharing any time soon.