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Disney+ loses 4 million subscribers in 3 months

  • Disney+ has lost 4 million subscribers from January 2023 to March 2023, according to Disney’s latest financial results for Q2 2023.
  • The subscriber drop-off was led by its Indian users, of whom 4.6 million users decided to ditch the service at the beginning of the year.
  • Despite the drop, Disney+ saw increased revenues as it barrels towards a finally profitable 2024.

In its latest financials [PDF] for Q2 2023, Walt Disney Co. announced that its streaming service lost 4 million subscribers in the first three months of the year, dropping its total paying user base from 161.8 million to 157.8 million – a 2 percent decrease when balanced by subscriber gains.

The largest subscriber drop-off came to its Indian Disney+ Hotstar user base, which saw an 8 percent dip or around 4.6 million users unsubscribing. The dip can be attributed to Disney losing the rights to air the Indian Premier League cricket games.

Disney was outbid of the rights by Viacom18, whose streaming platform JioCinema will be airing all the league’s games for free in a bid to win over customers. This changeover battered revenues from Disney+ Hotstar, seeing a 20 percent decrease in average monthly revenues per paid subscriber for the quarter in the region.

Meanwhile, Disney+ also lost subscribers in the US and Canada region, amounting to a 1 percent change from 46.6 million to 46.3 million.

Subscriber gains were middling during the recent quarter, with a 2 percent increase mostly from international regions.

Despite this, revenues were up across the board for Walter Disney Co. and its streaming division narrowed its losses to $659 million from the previous’ quarters $1.1 billion. While Disney+ is still not profitable, the company expects to see it finally produce a turnover at some point in 2024.

“We’re pleased with our accomplishments this quarter, including the improved financial performance of our streaming business, which reflect the strategic changes we’ve been making throughout the company to realign Disney for sustained growth and success,” said Robert A. Iger, Walt Disney Co. chief executive.

Investors, however, were alarmed at the subscriber loss and Disney shares fell 4.4 percent in after-hours trading, with a negative trend still in the air for the media powerhouse.

While Disney+ is losing subscribers, competitor Warner Bros. Discovery announced on Monday that it added 1 million subscribers to its own streaming platforms in the same period. The company is preparing to unite its streaming platforms under a single banner later this month.

The new service, called simply Max, will launch with around 97.6 million subscribers. Apart from saving costs and creating a platform to introduce new content, Max is expected to drive renewed profits. The company anticipates its streaming division to become profitable in 2023, much earlier than expected.

Disney+ saw its South African release in 2022, but users have criticised the company for launching a sub-par version compared to the one found internationally and in the US.

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