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Hulu Starts Cracking Down on Password Sharing, Will Terminate Violators at Its ‘Sole Discretion’

Disney’s Hulu has joined the ranks of streamers prohibiting subscribers from sharing their accounts with people outside their household.

The Disney-controlled streamer on Jan. 31 notified customers of a key change in its subscriber agreement that — for the first time — officially forbids users from sharing their Hulu log-in details with anyone who doesn’t live in their primary residence.

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For Hulu, the aim is to drive up the number of paying subscribers by curbing the ability of password freeloaders to piggyback on someone else’s Hulu account. The move comes after Disney+ has implemented a similar restriction. It also follows Netflix’s broad-based account-sharing initiative, kicked off in 2023, which execs have credited with helping to boost subscriber numbers.

The new terms were effective as of Jan. 25, 2024, for new Hulu subscribers. For prior and existing subscribers, they’ll go into effect beginning March 14 unless customers acknowledge an in-app notice of the changes prior to that date.

“Unless otherwise permitted by your Service Tier, you may not share your subscription outside of your household,” reads the new Hulu subscriber agreement. The term “household” means the collection of devices “associated with your primary personal residence that are used by the individuals who reside therein,” according to the document.

Hulu didn’t say exactly how it will monitor whether a customer is illicitly sharing their log-in info. “We may, in our sole discretion, analyze the use of your account to determine compliance with this Agreement,” the updated terms say. “If we determine, in our sole discretion, that you have violated this Agreement, we may limit or terminate access to the Service and/or take any other steps as permitted by this Agreement.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger had announced last summer that the Mouse House was embarking on a strategy to monetize streaming account freeloaders. “We are actively exploring ways to address account sharing and the best options for paying subscribers to share their accounts with friends and family,” Iger said on Disney’s quarterly earnings call Aug. 9.

In another change to Hulu’s subscriber agreement, the service updated portions of its dispute-resolution policies, including terms related to choice of law and “updates to the arbitration agreement to be more specific about the procedures for resolving any disputes relating to your subscription and our services.” Hulu said customers have the choice to opt out of resolving disputes through arbitration.

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