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Disney+ Lost 1.3 Million Core Subs in Q1, Streaming Business Narrows Loss to $138 Million

Disney+ Lost 1.3 Million Core Subs in Q1, Streaming Business Narrows Loss to $138 Million

The Walt Disney Company Feb. 7 reported that its branded Disney+ subscription streaming service ended the first quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2023) with 111.3 million core subscribers (excluding India), which was down 1.3 million subs (112.6 million) at the end of Q4, ended Sept. 30, 2023.

The service lost 900,000 subs internationally. Disney+ finished up 7 million subs from the end of the previous-year period at 104.3 million. Disney attributed the Disney+ sub loss to a substantial price increase in the quarter as well as the end of the global summer promotion.

Disney said it expects Disney+ core subscriber net additions of between 5.5 million and 6 million, in addition to a positive momentum in average revenue per user in the second quarter, ending March 31. The uptick is largely due to Disney’s marketing deal with Charter Communications, which will see Charter’s Spectrum TV Select subs joining Disney’s ad-supported SVOD tier.

Taking a page from the Netflix playbook, beginning this summer, Disney+ subscribers suspected of improper sharing of their accounts will be offered new options to allow their non-member users to start their own subscriptions, according to CFO Hugh Johnston. Account holders who want to allow access to individuals from outside their household will be able to add them to their accounts for an undisclosed additional fee.

“While we are still in the early days and don’t expect notable benefits from these paid-sharing initiatives until the back half of calendar 2024, we want to reach as large an audience as possible…and we’re looking forward to rolling out this new functionality to improve the overall customer experience and grow our subscriber base,” Johnston said on the fiscal call.

India’s Disney+ Hotstar added 700,000 subs to end the period with 38.3 million subs. Disney is set to spin-off majority control of its Indian media assets this year.

Hulu subscribers increased by 1.2 million from the prior quarter to end 2023 at 45.1 million subs compared to 43.5 million at the end of 2022, and 43.9 million at the end of Sept. 30, 2023.

Hulu + Live TV, the online television subscription service, saw no sub growth in Q1 from Q4 2023, ending the period with 4.6 million subs, which was up 100,000 subs from 4.5 million at the end of 2023.

The media giant’s direct-to-consumer business reduced its operating loss by $300 million to $138 million. Revenue increased 15% to more than $5.5 billion from $4.8 billion in the prior-year period.

“We have turned the corner and entered a new era for our company, focused on fortifying ESPN for the future, building streaming into a profitable growth business, reinvigorating our film studios, and turbocharging growth in our parks and experiences,” CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “We believe this [streaming] business will ultimately be a key earnings growth driver for the company.”

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