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Following news this week that Disney+ has begun cracking down on password sharing in the US, the company revealed that it does plan to provide a way for families to add extra members to their Disney+ subscriptions at a lower cost — but it hasn’t yet offered any hints as to what that might cost subscribers.
Unlike Netflix, which had “Extra Member” accounts ready to go when it began its password sharing crackdown last year, Disney seems to be starting from the other end — blocking the use of a Disney+ account outside of a single household first and only later offering a way for subscribers to get their extended family and close friends back online without forcing them to opt for a full subscription of their own.
While some of this may be a matter of getting its technical ducks in a row, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Disney hopes that more folks will sign up for full subscriptions if they have no other options.
Disney didn’t come out and say that, of course, but it did explain its new restrictions and paid sharing plans to investors during its earnings call this week, confirming that it plans to start enforcing its policies this summer before bringing plans for adding extra members to the service “later this year.”
Although new Disney+ terms of service officially took effect on January 25, the company has told existing customers it has until March 14 to clean up their act and get “borrowers” from outside their households off their accounts. However, during this week’s earnings call, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer, Hugh Johnston, suggested that the ban hammer won’t begin dropping until “this summer.”
The accounts that we think are doing unpaid sharing right now will get communication this summer, and we’ll give them opportunities to allow their borrowers to start new subscriptions.Hugh Johnston, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer
While the new terms of service have suggested a sharing-friendly service tier was coming since Disney began its crackdown in Canada last fall, this is the first time it’s actually said so.
Account Sharing. 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.Disney+ Terms of Service
Unfortunately, we still have no idea what that’s going to cost. However, it’s probably fair to expect it to be on par with Netflix, which charges $7.99 for extra member accounts, with limits on how many can be added — one on Standard, two on Premium. In his comments, Johnston obliquely pointed to Netflix when he said that paid sharing is an “opportunity […] that our competitor is obviously taking advantage of,” so it makes sense that Disney will follow a similar business model.
Then, later this year, we’ll actually also have account holders who want to allow further individuals to access their account from outside the household; they’ll be able to access the account, but they’ll be able to do so for an additional fee.Hugh Johnston, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer
However, it sounds like there could be a transition period during which “borrowers” will find themselves turfed without having any recourse other than to establish their own subscription if they want to continue watching. Johnston suggested that those accounts will “be presented with new capabilities to allow their borrowers to start their own subscriptions,” which hopefully means Disney will come up with a profile transfer service similar to what Netflix has in place so that folks can move their data over into a new profile.
Like Netflix, Disney will probably require these additional accounts to be set up and paid for by the primary subscriber as add-ons to their existing plan. In addition to a cap on how many extra members can be added, this will help limit paid sharing to close friends and family members.