Disney+ announces major changes for subscriptions and password sharing

Burbank, California - Disney has responded to more financial losses by raising subscription prices again and following in the footsteps of Netflix by cracking down on password sharing.

Disney+ will raise its subscription prices and implement measures to stop password sharing among households.
Disney+ will raise its subscription prices and implement measures to stop password sharing among households.  © 123RF/gesrey

There will be a brief grace period – Disney chief executive Bob Iger said the crackdown on shared accounts would only begin next year.

At the same time, the ad-free version of the streaming service will become more expensive. Disney+ without ads will now cost $13.99 per month, twice as much as at when it launched in November 2019.

Since the option of a cheaper rate with advertising was offered, about 40% of new customers have opted in, Iger said.

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Netflix began implementing its full-scale measures against password sharing earlier in 2023. Users who access the service outside a subscriber household are now being told to get their own subscription.

At the same time, subscribers can buy access for additional users. According to the streaming market leader, the approach is leading to higher subscriber numbers and revenues despite initial dissatisfaction.

Netflix estimated that previously about 100 million users accessed the service with passwords from other households.

Disney cutting down on Star Wars and Marvel content

Disney CEO Bob Iger has been heavily criticized for his response to the ongoing writers and actors strike.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has been heavily criticized for his response to the ongoing writers and actors strike.  © REUTERS

Disney and other rivals have so far been taking heavy losses as part of efforts to pry some market share from the hands of streaming trailblazer Netflix.

But the major Hollywood studios in particular are now trying to get a grip on costs. Iger, whose company is front and center in the labor battle that culminated in the ongoing Hollywood strike, has already announced a reduction in Star Wars and Marvel content, which means remaining productions will cost less.

With the price increases, Disney is also testing how attractive and indispensable its movies and shows are for users.

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Many American households are giving up their cable TV subscriptions and switching to streaming. Iger did not rule out Disney divesting itself of the TV business with channels such as ABC. Even now, he said he sees Disney's future primarily in three areas: movies, streaming, and theme parks.

Disney+ was previously culled of less popular content as a cost-cutting measure, while its loss of rights to the cricket league lost it around a quarter of subscribers in India.

The studios compete in streaming not just with Netflix, but also Apple and Amazon, which can easily shoulder billions in costs for their services. Given Disney's troubles, The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday raised the idea that the entertainment giant could be bought by Apple.

Asked about this after the quarterly figures were presented, Iger said he did not want to speculate about it.

Cover photo: 123RF/gesrey

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