Hulu joins Netflix and Disney Plus on the password crackdown train – here’s what you need to know

Hulu joins Netflix and Disney Plus on the password crackdown train – here’s what you need to know

In news that’ll surprise approximately nobody, Hulu has joined Disney Plus in a Netflix-style crackdown on account sharing. If you’re a subscriber you should have already received the email, which details that from March 14, 2024, if you share your account with people who aren’t part of the same household, you’re in breach of the subscriber agreement.

The agreement defines what it means by “household” too. It’s “the collection of devices associated with your primary personal residence that are used by the individuals who reside therein”. Breaking the rules may mean account limitations or even account termination.

We already knew this was coming, because Disney’s other streaming service, Disney Plus, made similar changes to its terms and conditions in late 2023 – and Disney boss Bob Iger told investors it was coming back in August as part of “tactics to drive monetization”.

Everything bad is Netflix’s fault

The industry consensus is that this is all Netflix’s fault – although they don’t quite put it in those words. When Netflix announced its own crackdown on account sharing, the rest of the industry paid close attention. If it turned out to be a disaster they wouldn’t make the same mistake, and if it worked out well then they’d soon copy it. 

So when it became clear that not only had the crackdown not harmed Netflix, but that it was driving more people to sign-up to its more profitable ad-supported service, it was just a matter of time before the other big streamers followed suit.

The news comes in the same week that Amazon began sticking ads in the previously ad-free Prime Video service and asking for extra money to remove them. That’s in the US, and the same change will come to the UK next week on February 5.

It’s yet another sign of a sea change in the best streaming services, which used to be the more attractive alternative to cable: lower prices, no ads, easy sharing. And while Hulu is the latest service to crack down on sharing, it won’t be the last. The market is crowded now and the industry sees account sharing as a key obstacle to the growth shareholders demand.

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Carrie Marshall

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