Disney+ is cracking down on password sharing, but here’s how

2024 is not the year to rely on other people’s money to stream Disney+. Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed in an interview with CNBC that the company will start cracking down on password sharing in certain countries before blocking the practice entirely by September. (Share a Hulu subscriber's password and Disney, the company's owner, will come after you.) Technically, the policy has been in place since January 25 for new subscribers and March 14 for existing customers. Sources say Disney plans to actually enforce its rules within the announced timeline.

This is frustrating news for many subscribers, not just those who want to watch Disney content through someone else's account. There are a lot of users whose jobs, schedules and situations don't fit the mold of customers watching Disney+ in the same home every day. Companies like Disney and Netflix probably won't care as long as they can prove that more people are signing up for their services. But don't feel pressure to give Mouse more money than you already have: If Disney+'s password-sharing rules work as well as we think, you might be able to continue streaming for free without too many problems.

How do Disney's password sharing restrictions work?

While we now have more information about when Disney plans to crack down on password sharing, the company remains fairly vague about how it will enforce the new rules. The terms of service state that Disney can "analyze the use of your account to determine compliance," and in this Help Center post, the company says:

You may not share your subscription with anyone outside your household. "Home" means the collection of equipment associated with your primary personal residence and used by individuals residing therein.

This is similar to the policies of Netflix, the very company that started all this crap. To recap, Netflix considers the TV you log in to your account to be the foundation of your home. All devices required to be connected to the home's WiFi when logged into Netflix will receive a pass. Of course, you're not limited to watching Netflix in your actual house: These devices are required to watch Netflix over your home wifi at least once a month, but Netflix can also be watched from anywhere you want.

How to Bypass Disney+ Password Sharing Rules

If Disney took a similar approach to cracking down on password sharing, it would be relatively easy to get around the rules. Assuming you live near the person borrowing the account, bring the device to their house at least once a month and watch a few seconds of any Disney+ or Hulu show or movie. Disney+ will "remember" your device as part of that account's family. So when you return home or anywhere other than the account holder's home, you shouldn't have streaming issues for at least the next 30 days or so.

This is obviously trickier if you're primarily streaming Disney+ on your smart TV - but if you're able to authenticate to your tablet or phone once a month, you should be able to cast that stream to your TV so you can Enjoy a sweet time with stolen content on the big screen.

If Disney has other ways to determine whether you are complying with the new rules, we will update this article to address those strategies. But for now, this is how I expect things to go. After all, no one is going to pay for a separate Disney+ subscription while traveling: there needs to be a way for paying customers to stream outside of home WiFi, which means some of us are going to have a way to exploit this vulnerability.