Winter is coming for 'Game of Thrones' freeloaders thanks to Max's password-sharing crackdown

Casey Bloys, Chairman and CEO, HBO and Max Content at Warner Bros. Discovery
Max is the latest streaming service to tell subscribers to get their own account.Warner Bros. Discovery
  • Max is hopping on the no-password-sharing bandwagon.

  • The prestige streaming service is following in the footsteps of rivals Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.

  • Warner Bros. Discovery said it will begin enforcing the changes later this year.

The days of watching "Game of Thrones" for free on your brother-in-law's Max account are numbered.

Max is the latest streaming service to announce a crackdown on password-sharing. The move, first reported by Bloomberg, puts the prestige streamer, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, in line with rivals Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, which have taken similar steps to limit account sharing in recent months.

"We think, relative to the scale of our business, it's a meaningful opportunity," said Warner Bros. Discovery executive J.B. Perrette at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Monday.

Perrette, the company's CEO and president of global streaming and games, said that password-sharing enforcement would start later this year and extend into 2025. He did not elaborate on what that enforcement would look like.

He specifically referenced Netflix's password-sharing crackdown as one that had been "extremely" successful. Last year, Netflix announced it would start charging $8 for users outside the household — a move that ultimately saw a rebound in subscriptions after the service recorded its first subscriber loss in over a decade.

Following Netflix's lead, Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ (all owned by Disney) also said earlier this year that they would limit password-sharing.

Perrette acknowledged that Max likely had less to gain, having been in the streaming market for four years, compared to Netflix's 17; "that means people are sharing passwords for 17 years." But he stressed that it was one of many growth areas for Max.

"This is a long-cycle business," he said. "The ship doesn't turn in one quarter or two quarters."

WBD's streaming unit ended 2023 profitable and is expected to be profitable for 2024. But it lost US subscribers in 2024 year over year, according to the company's latest earnings report. Max accounted for a scant 1.3% of streaming viewing in January, behind YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, and others, according to Nielsen.

Perrette said that with streaming, the studio has "never had more content, performing better, in the 50-year history of HBO."

"On the distribution and monetization of content, we are driving as fast as we can," he added.

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