Hulu password-sharing crackdown to start soon

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Hulu will start cracking down on password sharing in mid-March for existing users. 

The streaming service, owned by Disney, made some changes to its subscriber agreement on Jan. 25, including restrictions on sharing Hulu subscriptions with people outside an owner’s household.

Hulu let users know about the updates via email this week.

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“We’re adding limitations on sharing your account outside your household, and explaining how we may assess your compliance with these limitations,” Hulu explained.

Hulu

A hand holds a remote in front of a Hulu logo on a TV screen, in this photo illustration from May 10, 2022. (Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The effort to curb password-sharing may not come as a surprise to Hulu subscribers because Disney CEO Bob Iger foreshadowed the entertainment giant was looking into it in the fall.

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“Later this year, we will begin to update our subscriber agreements with additional terms on our sharing policies, and we will roll out tactics to drive monetization sometime in 2024,” he said.

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Now that is coming to pass. The new agreement says account holders “may not share your subscription outside your household” unless their service tier allows that. Hulu said it counts devices “associated with your primary personal residence that are used by individuals who reside therein” as a “household.”

Hulu logo

Silhouettes of toy figures are photographed in front of the Hulu logo in a January 20, 2022 illustration. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo / Reuters Photos)

Hulu can limit or end a user’s service if the platform finds the person violated the subscriber agreement. According to the terms, the service can look at account activity and usage to determine if there were any violations. 

Disney+ and ESPN+ have the same section in their subscriber agreement. Netflix also previously took steps to stop account-sharing outside households on its own platform.

Hulu’s rule about account-sharing and other subscriber agreement changes will come into force for existing subscribers on March 14. New subscribers are already subject to them.

Disney said about 48.5 million people around the world subscribed to Hulu as of Sept. 30. 

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Iger said a couple months ago that the company didn’t expect its streaming business to see a “meaningful impact” from the account-sharing measures until 2025. He told analysts and investors that Disney thought the move would offer “additional opportunities for improvement” in streaming.

The company’s streaming business as a whole generated nearly $21.93 billion in 2023. Their combined operating loss for the year was $2.61 billion, a decrease of 35% compared to the prior year.

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