Disney+ Drops Subscriber Growth Projections as Changes Coming to India, Price
Wednesday’s earnings report brought some great news to Disney investors, as the company’s flagship streaming service Disney+ reportedly added 14.4 million subscribers worldwide, meaning that the companies three streamers — Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ — have now amassed 222.1 million subscribers, not counting for redundancies due to the Disney Bundle. However, there was some bad news as Disney revised its subscriber guidance, with specific losses projected from India’s Disney+ Hotstar service.
Previously, Disney had been looking forward to a goal of 230 and 260 million subscribers by 2024, but in a call with analysts following the report’s release, company executives revised that target. CFO Christine McCarthy split the news into two different projections; the first, the company’s “core” streamer Disney+ domestically and Disney+/Star/Star+ internationally; the second being Hotstar in India. While the core service is projected to stay largely on track at 135 to 165 million subscribers, it’s the Hotstar numbers that took a hit down to 80 million.
Added to the global service, that puts Disney+ in its entirety at upper projections of 245 million subscribers, a 6% drop overall.
Since Disney+ Hotstar declined to renew streaming rights to India Premiere League (IPL) cricket matches, it comes as no surprise that the forecasted subscription rates would drop in that region. Cricket is India’s most popular sport and to have Disney’s local streamer hand over the rights to Viacom18 would put it at a real disadvantage. However, Disney is staying in the cricket game as the company having secured the linear broadcast rights for the IPL.
Another concern facing the company is what happens on Dec. 8 when Disney+ launches its own ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) subscription tier. Instead of lowering their existing cost to compensate for incorporating ads into the viewing experience, Disney is instead making the current $7.99 price for its ad-free tier the new rate for its ad-supported service. In turn, the ad-free experience will jump to $10.99 a month. That three-dollar increase might upset a lot of subscribers, and for those customers intent on only paying the $7.99 fee, the prospect of waiting through ads for the same price may make their initial sign-up feel like a bait-and-switch.
However, Disney doesn’t believe that its new AVOD incorporation will be a big problem as the company is gearing its ad-supported tier to start slowly with advertising and build from there. That is certainly a better strategy than its other streamer Hulu, whose customers are fed up with commercials that are far too frequent and repetitive.
Whether or not the goodwill that Disney+ has gained from its low-price and ad-free content will begin to erode when these changes take effect is yet to be seen. But, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that subscriber projections were lower than previously indicated as the entire streaming industry is going through a recalibration just as Disney is shifting how it does business.
Even so, the hit taken from cricket losses in the Indian market will most likely have a negative impact on Disney’s numbers and illustrates how streaming sports is quickly becoming an important part of the digital distribution industry.
Disney+ is a video streaming service with over 13,000 series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more. It is available in 61 countries and 21 languages. It is notable for its popular original series like “The Mandalorian,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Loki,” “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” and “Andor.”
Disney+ has two plans – one with ads and one without ads. Disney+ Basic with Ads costs $7.99 / month. If you don’t want ads, you can choose Disney+ Premium with No Ads which costs $10.99 / month.
The Premium plan also offers an annual option for $109.99 / year ($9.17/mo.).
If you want all of Disney streaming services, they have two options for The Disney Bundle. The Disney Bundle Basic includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ (with Ads) for $7.99 / month. The Disney Bundle Premium (without Ads) for $19.99 / month.
The app supports unlimited downloads (on their Premium Plans), four simultaneous streamers, up to 7 profiles, 4K streaming, and includes hundreds of avatars.
The service includes 25+ original series, 10+ original movies, 7,500 past episodes, 100 recent movies, and 400 library titles including the entire Disney Vault.
You can see the full list of available Disney, Disney Channel, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Nat Geo shows and movies, or all available Disney+ content by checking out our Disney+ Streaming Movie List.