Disney+ Hotstar, the India-focused streaming service owned by Disney, has lost nearly a quarter of its customer base in the last quarter, according to Disney’s earnings report on Wednesday.
The streamer had 40.4 million subscribers at the end of June, down from 52.9 million in March and 61.4 million in October 2022.
The main reason for the subscriber loss is the lack of cricket content, which is the most popular sport in India and a key driver of Hotstar’s growth. Hotstar had secured the exclusive rights to stream the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s richest cricket tournament, until 2022.
However, this year, Hotstar faced a new competitor in the form of JioCinema, a streaming platform launched by Reliance Jio, India’s largest telecom operator backed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani. JioCinema offered free streaming of the IPL matches to its mobile subscribers, undercutting Hotstar’s subscription fees.
“Disney+ Hotstar subscribers declined this quarter as we adjusted our product from one centred around the IPL to one more balanced with other sports and entertainment offerings. I would also note that this business with its significantly lower ARPU compared to core Disney+ is not a material component of our overall D2C financial results,” said Interim Chief Financial Officer Kevin Lansberry, at the post-result earnings call early on Thursday as reported by Business Today.
Jio Cinema reported a peak viewership of 3.2 crore concurrent viewers. But it is not clear yet how many of those viewers have stuck on to the platform after the IPL 2023 season ended in May.
The subscriber loss has raised questions about Disney’s strategy and future in India, one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing media markets. Disney CEO Bob Iger did not offer a strong outlook for India on the earnings call, saying that the company was prioritizing markets that would help it turn its streaming business into a profitable one.
“We actually have been looking at multiple markets around the world with an eye toward prioritizing those that are going to help us turn this business into a profitable business. What that basically means is there are some markets that we will invest less in local programming but still maintain the service,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in an interview with TechCrunch.
The company is also planning to tighten its account-sharing policies. According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, the company is exploring ways to address account sharing and will update its subscriber agreements with additional terms and policies later this year. The new policy will roll out next year, but Iger did not reveal any details about how it will work or what the consequences will be for violating it.
In addition to the account sharing restrictions, Disney Plus also announced a price hike for its Premium plans, which offer 4K streaming and downloads. Starting October 12, Disney Plus Premium with no ads will cost $13.99/month (Rs 1,558 approximately), up from $10.99/month (Rs 1,558 approximately).
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Author Name | Om Gupta