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Max Announces End to Password Sharing, Following Netflix and Disney+ Lead

ByHuey Yee Ong

Mar 10, 2024
Max Announces End to Password Sharing, Following Netflix and Disney+ Lead

Warner Bros. Discovery has officially announced plans to halt password sharing on its streaming platform, Max, following the lead of other major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. This development signals a broader industry shift toward stricter account use policies, aiming to curb the prevalent practice of sharing account credentials beyond the subscriber’s household.

Max, previously known as HBO Max, is responding to the competitive streaming TV market and the need for growth by enforcing new rules against password sharing. JB Perrette, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, disclosed the company’s strategy at the Morgan Stanley’s 2024 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, stating that subscribers engaging in password sharing would start receiving notifications about the policy changes later this year, with plans to fully implement paid sharing options in 2025.

What Constitutes Password Sharing?

Password sharing, as defined by these streaming services, involves a subscribed user allowing individuals outside their household to use their account, a practice that has been broadly tolerated until recent shifts in policy. Traditionally, streaming accounts are designed to support multiple users under one roof, offering simultaneous access across various devices. The industry’s tightening grip on account sharing aims to encourage the setup of individual subscriptions for users outside the subscriber’s household, promoting fair use and potentially increasing subscription numbers.

The Growing Trend of Curbing Password Sharing

This move is hardly surprising, given the recent trend among streaming providers to clamp down on password sharing:

  • Netflix: Initiated the campaign against password sharing by introducing add-on plans for users, allowing them to officially share their accounts with individuals outside their household.
  • Disney+: Followed Netflix’s lead and announced plans to introduce a similar feature for its subscribers, aiming to prohibit password sharing across its platforms, including Hulu and ESPN+.
  • Max (formerly HBO Max): Is set to implement paid sharing options in 2025, enforcing new rules against password sharing to encourage individual subscriptions outside the subscriber’s household.

The initiative comes at a time when Max is striving to assert itself in the highly competitive streaming market. The decision to rebrand from HBO Max to Max, dropping the renowned “HBO” name, has been contentious and coincided with a dip in subscriber numbers. Nonetheless, Max’s content remains in high demand, with HBO originals like “Game of Thrones” and “The Last of Us” consistently topping piracy charts.

The Impact of Password Sharing Policies

Despite potential backlash from users accustomed to sharing their passwords, similar moves have benefited other streaming services. Netflix, for example, witnessed a significant surge in new signups following its crackdown on password sharing, adding 8.8 million new subscribers in the aftermath—a stark increase from the 2.4 million added in the previous quarter when password sharing was rampant.

Looking Ahead

The forthcoming policy change at Max reflects a growing recognition among streaming services of the need to balance user flexibility with revenue protection. By introducing paid sharing options, these platforms aim to accommodate users’ desire to share content with friends and family outside their household while also safeguarding their business model.

Warner Bros. Discovery is optimistic about the financial implications of this strategy, anticipating that it won’t see a significant impact until the latter half of 2024. The company is also exploring new advertising formats, including shoppable ads, to further enhance its revenue streams.

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Featured Image courtesy of Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.