The latest report out of Disney Plus shows tough times at the streaming arm of the House of the Mouse. That said, you're probably not going to be able to guess why Disney's streaming service lost 2.4 million subscribers overall for the period of Q1 2023 (Oct. - Dec. 2022).
It's not because of the $3 price hike for Disney Plus' ad-free tier, which was effective Dec. 8. Newly re-installed Disney CEO Bob Iger, on the earnings call, stated that this increase lead to "a de minimis [i.e. trivial] loss of subs… that tells us something."
It's not because that window may have been soft on big new content. The biggest titles during that quarter were Andor and the back-half of She-Hulk. The widely-watched Hocus Pocus 2 did arrive on Sept. 30.
Disney lost subscribers because of sports. Yes, Disney Plus has sports — just not in the U.S.. The Walt Disney Company's Q1 2023 report released yesterday (Feb. 8), shows a loss of 3.8 million subscribers to Disney Plus Hotstar, the version of the service served to India and select Southeast Asia regions. This is tied to the service losing Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches.
In the U.S. and Canada even with a soft start to the year, Disney Plus actually gained subscribers overall, around 200,000 of them in fact.
The bad news continued on the call, with Iger announcing that Disney would be eliminating 7,000 jobs (3.2% of Disney's global staff).
Analysis: Disney Plus apparently can survive without new Marvel shows and live-action Star Wars
Disney Plus may not have suffered such huge losses, if it had a bigger title to draw eyes, such as The Mandalorian season 3 (due March 1), Loki season 2 or the upcoming Secret Invasion series starring Samuel L. Jackson and Emilia Clarke.
But the fact that Disney Plus' US and Canada subscriber numbers actually grew during this window is impressive. We're curious how Disney Plus' next quarter will look, because outside of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Disney Plus' biggest recent gains have been on smaller titles (Willow, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder season 2, The Bad Batch season 2).
Gaining Mando's third season at the start of the final month of the next fiscal quarter should make up for that, of course.
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