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Disney lowers subscriber target after IPL streaming rights loss

The firm revised its subscriber count to 80 million by the end of fiscal 2024 from the projected 100 million

Walt Disney | Viacom18 | IPL

Viveat Susan Pinto & Agencies  |  Mumbai 

Disney Hotstar
Disney+ Hotstar.

Media giant revised its latest subscriber guidance for its streaming service Disney+ Hotstar after losing the streaming rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to Reliance-backed .

The firm revised its subscriber count to 80 million by the end of fiscal 2024 from the projected 100 million.

Meanwhile, the streaming service has added 8.3 million subscribers in the third quarter that ended on July 2, hitting 58.4 million subscribers in India and South East Asia

Disney+ had 44.9 million paid users in the same period last year.

The streaming giant also edged past Netflix with 221 million subscribers at the end of the quarter and announced it will launch a Disney+ option with advertising this December.

Combined with Hulu and ESPN+, Disney said it had 221.1 million streaming subscribers at the end of the June quarter. Netflix said it had 220.7 million streaming subscribers.

“The downgrade will impact the overall subscriber outlook for Disney+”, said Christine McCarthy, senior executive vice-president and chief financial officer at Walt Disney, in the earnings call on Thursday. This is because Hotstar is a key contributor to Disney+'s user base, accounting for 38.4 per cent of its total subscribers of 152.1 million in the April-June period. The company follows an October-September accounting year.


McCarthy said that the overall subscriber guidance for Disney+ was being lowered to 215-245 million globally by the end of fiscal 2024 from the previous estimate of 230-260 million for the same period.

"We recently made the disciplined decision to not proceed with the digital rights and we’ll evaluate these rights with the same discipline," McCarthy said.

"Excluding the impact of any significant future macro headwinds, our core + subscriber target range is 135 million to 165 million, largely consistent with previously provided guidance," she said.

McCarthy had earlier said that the company would focus its attention on ramping up its entertainment content across its platforms, lining up some 100 shows in India. Even as the entertainment conglomerate had lost the streaming rights, Disney-Star had bagged the five-year television rights for at Rs 23,575 crore.

"One-third of the $32-billion content spend for fiscal 2022 will be towards sports. Of the balance, a meaningful amount will be dedicated to investments in general entertainment that we can leverage across all our distribution platforms. We have about 500 shows in the pipeline for local content outside of the US. Of this, 140 is in South East Asia. In EMEA, it is 150, and in India, 100 shows," she said.

Karan Taurani, senior vice-president, research at Elara Capital, said that the revision in subscriber guidance for Hotstar was on expected lines, since the video streaming platform had gained significant eyeballs with the digital rights of the .

said on Thursday that talk shows such as Koffee with Karan, is one of its most popular shows, and that it would continue to invest in entertainment content including movies and web originals. It will also count on international content, such as those from the Marvel universe, dubbed in multiple languages, to woo audiences in India.

“We look forward to several upcoming catalysts for Disney+, including reaching a steady state of tent pole original content releases, delivery of premium general entertainment and international local originals and the upcoming launch of our ad-supported tier,” McCarthy said.

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First Published: Fri, August 12 2022. 00:18 IST