The last year has seen Disney making drastic changes to its business in an effort to save billions of dollars, which include a drastic reduction in its general entertainment content and laying off 7000 employees. Since Disney purchased 20th Century Fox in 2019, it has been dealing with the debt involved in the purchase. Since then, we’ve gone through the pandemic, and the whole entertainment business is struggling with a shift in focus on profitability rather than growing subscriber numbers for its streaming services, plus major issues with a decline in advertising revenue with the difficult trading environment.
While Disney has been selling off or closing down some of the assets that it obtained from 20th Century Fox, one of the biggest assets was Star India, which was rebranded into Disney Star. The company operates Disney+ Hotstar, which has over 50 million subscribers, along with more than 70 TV channels in eight languages, making it the largest television and entertainment network in India, in addition to Star Studios, which releases theatrical films.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney is exploring strategic options for its Star India business, which includes a joint venture or selling the business.
Apparently, Disney has spoken to at least one bank about ways to help its business in India grow, while sharing some of the costs. These talks are still in the early stages, and it’s unclear which way Disney might move.
With Disney drastically looking to save money, it’s not a huge surprise to see Disney looking at its operations in India. It has already saved billions of dollars by not getting the streaming rights for the Indian Cricket Premiere League, and in many countries around the world, it has been closing down its linear networks. Disney CEO Bob Iger has also spoken out on how the company needs to focus more on global content and that some countries have been creating too much-localised content. Making Disney+ Hotstar more profitable has become a major focus for the company.
In the past year, Star India is expected to have an estimated overall revenue of around $2 billion, which is about 20% less than last year. Disney+ Hotstar has lost millions of subscribers following the loss of the cricket, but the estimated savings from not paying out for it, is likely to make a big impact on the balance books.
Either way, Disney is looking to make some changes to its business in India, no doubt Disney+ Hotstar will still be an important asset for the company, especially in terms of how it reaches its audience. But there are likely to be some big changes coming in the years ahead, as the company refocuses its operations.
Should Disney sell parts of Star India, it might have implications for the Star brand, which could impact Disney+ worldwide and Star+ in Latin America. This might be why we’ve seen some international movement of the Hulu brand in Japan and in India. It might be completely unrelated, but if Disney was planning on rebranding Star to Hulu internationally, it could be one explanation for these changes and would allow Disney to have a global general entertainment brand within Disney+. Though that also has implications if Disney hasn’t completed its deal with Comcast for the remaining 33% stake. Ultimately, right now, that’s just a theory!
What do you think Disney is going to do with Star India? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.