HBO Max Faces Backlash Over Password Sharing Crackdown

HBO Max will restrict password sharing later this year, allowing account holders to add extra members for a fee. The move follows Netflix's similar strategy, which has seen a resurgence in subscriber growth since its implementation in 2023.

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HBO Max Faces Backlash Over Password Sharing Crackdown

HBO Max Faces Backlash Over Password Sharing Crackdown

HBO Max, the streaming service owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, is facing criticism from subscribers after announcing plans to restrict password sharing later this year. The move follows a similar strategy employed by Netflix, which has seen a resurgence in subscriber growth since implementing its own password-sharing crackdown in 2023.

According to a report from Bloomberg, HBO Max will start enforcing the password-sharing policy this fall, with plans to continue through 2025. The streaming service will introduce a feature allowing account holders to add extra members for a cost, similar to Netflix's "extra member slots" priced at $7.99 each. While the exact price for adding extra members on HBO Max has not been announced, it is expected to be less than the service's current ad-supported tier, which costs $9.99 per month.

The decision to crack down on password sharing comes as HBO Max aims to boost its dwindling domestic subscriber base, which has shrunk to 52 million, fewer than it had seven years ago. The move is timed to coincide with the release of highly anticipated content, such as the new season of "House of the Dragon" and the upcoming series "Dune: Prophecy."

Frustrated subscribers have taken to social media to express their discontent with the planned changes. One user on X (formerly Twitter) lamented, "I knew all these greedy companies would eventually crack down on password sharing after Netflix." Another user commented, "The streaming bubble is about to burst and they are freaking out."

Why this matters: The shift towards stricter password-sharing policies has significant implications for the streaming industry as a whole, as companies struggle to balance revenue growth with customer satisfaction. As more services adopt similar measures, consumers may be forced to reevaluate their subscription habits, potentially leading to a broader shift in the way we consume online content.

Jean-Briac Perrette, CEO and President of Global Streaming for Warner Bros. Discovery acknowledged the challenges of implementing such a policy, stating, "I'm conscious of not overselling it because you see Netflix's success, but Netflix was in the market for 17 years. That means people have been sharing passwords for 17 years."

The move by HBO Max is part of a broader trend in the streaming industry, as companies grapple with slowing subscriber growth and increasing competition. Netflix, which introduced its own password-sharing crackdown in 2023, has seen its fastest growth in years, adding 9.3 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2024. Other streaming services, such as Hulu, have also implemented similar policies, with users reacting negatively to the changes.

As HBO Max prepares to enforce its password-sharing restrictions, it remains to be seen how subscribers will respond and whether the move will ultimately lead to an increase in paying customers or further backlash. The streaming service will need to navigate the delicate balance between boosting revenue and maintaining customer satisfaction in an increasingly competitive market.

Key Takeaways

  • HBO Max to restrict password sharing later this year, following Netflix's strategy.
  • New feature will allow account holders to add extra members for a fee, similar to Netflix.
  • HBO Max aims to boost dwindling domestic subscriber base, currently at 52 million.
  • Subscribers are expressing discontent on social media, fearing increased costs.
  • Move is part of a broader trend in the streaming industry to combat password sharing.