Disney+ is the latest in the line of premium streaming services looking to restrict password sharing among its subscribers. During its Q3 2023 earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger claimed that the company is ‘actively exploring’ ways to manage account sharing, with plans to roll out new policies sometime in 2024. The executive never dropped a number, but stated that a ‘significant’ amount of people have been sharing passwords with friends and family, though his larger concern is how many of them are willing to convert to new subscribers — in turn, boosting the revenue for Disney+.
Netflix was the first to crack down on password sharing by logging out secondary users from the app, which in July resulted in nearly 6 million new subscribers joining the platform. Iger believes that changes to password sharing will surely bring in ‘some’ new subscribers and that Disney itself should see the effects from the crackdown next year. That said, it is possible that the work won’t be completed within the 2024 calendar year — I’m assuming there will be a lot of experimenting, as the team continues exploring better options for paying subscribers to share their accounts. Disney will begin updating its subscriber agreements with new terms later this year, calling it a ‘priority’.
It makes sense for Disney to take this route, given Disney+ Hotstar — the brand in India and other South Asian countries — just lost a staggering 12.5 million subscribers from April to June, going from 52.9 million to 40.4 million subscribers. The drop was expected though, considering the platform lost rights to live stream the premium cricket tournament IPL (Indian Premier League) to Viacom18 in a $2.6 billion (about Rs. 21,497 crore) deal running until the year 2027.
While not explicitly mentioned, another driving factor could be the removal of all HBO content from Disney+ Hotstar, which happened on March 31, taking away a ton of quality shows such as The Last of Us, Succession, Euphoria, and more. At the time, most subscribers on the internet (including me) questioned whether it was still worth it to hold onto their subscriptions. Now, even that catalogue is in Viacom18’s control, available to stream through JioCinema.
While this looks bad from a subscriber count point-of-view, we must consider that Disney+ Hotstar subscriptions cost way less than their international counterparts. For instance, Disney+’s core average revenue per user is $6.58 (about Rs. 544) per month, while Hotstar brings in merely $0.59 (about Rs. 49) per month. For context, the core Disney+ experience (international) has a total of 105.7 million subscribers, which when combined with Hotstar, ESPN+, and Hulu, amounts to 219.6 million subscribers globally. Meanwhile, its rival Netflix recorded 238.39 million subscribers, following the password-sharing crackdown.
A Disney+ Hotstar Super subscription in India starts Rs. 899 a year with advertisements, offering a 1080p experience. The Premium subscription costs Rs. 1,499 with no advertisements and support for Ultra-HD resolution streaming. Disney+ Hotstar also offers a Mobile subscription at Rs. 499 a year, limiting access to one mobile device.