While streaming companies spent years chasing global subscriber numbers to catch up with Netflix, there was a big shift last year to focusing on profitability, which has resulted in Disney+ Hotstar in India going through some major changes, which has resulted in the streaming platform losing millions of subscribers following Disney not acquiring the streaming rights to the Indian Premier League and not renewing its contract with Warner Brothers Discovery for HBO Content.

The loss of millions of subscribers from Disney+ in India caused lots of headlines, but in the long run, Disney+ Hotstar is now in a much better situation financially. According to some new data from Ampere Analysis for Variety, the savings made by Disney by not going after the IPL Cricket rights and Warner Brothers Discovery content has “saved the company a figure just short of twice its entire streaming revenue from the past five years.”

Disney+ Hotstar has lost around ten million subscribers, but it is still the market leader in India and holds onto a 29% market share, with 50 million subscribers. Much higher than Amazon, which has 12.4 million and Netflix, at 6.2 million.

The problem with Disney+ Hotstar subscribers and why Disney has changed its focus to profitability is that it only makes around 59 cents per month on a subscriber in India, compared to around $6.47 per subscriber of Disney+ globally, which is over ten times higher. So a ten million subscriber loss in India, in terms of money made per month, is only financially equivalent to around a million subscribers globally.

Disney+ Hotstar is now pivoting towards profitability and making more money per average user. Many mobile providers, such as Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Jio, offer Disney+ Hotstar as a bonus, which increases how many people have access to Disney+ Hotstar, but drastically reduces how much money Disney makes off each subscriber.

Orina Zhao, senior analyst at Ampere Analysis said:

“With India set to keep its position as the world’s third largest SVOD market after the U.S. and China with an expected growth to 180 million subscriptions in 2027, it is important for Disney+ Hotstar to balance its content expenditure and subscription retention and acquisition. JioCinema is expected to announce more standard subscription plans later this year which will increase direct competition with existing players and change the ecosystem of the market. Disney+ Hotstar still owns 123 of the top 500 most popular titles in India, by Ampere’s estimates, which places it behind Amazon Prime, but ahead of Netflix (117 titles) and far ahead of JioCinema (38 titles), but now needs to find new sustainable strategies to improve profitability while maintaining its significant subscriber base in India.”

With Disney now saving billions a year by not having access to HBO and IPL Cricket,  Disney+ Hotstar is now financially in a much better situation.  Executives had warned that subscriber numbers were going to fall drastically for Disney+ globally, once they lost the IPL cricket content, but hopefully, the bulk of these losses are now over.   Disney+ Hotstar subscribers will also no doubt feel there is less content on the platform, and this is in addition to Disney deciding to scale back its general entertainment plans, plus how much it spends on local content, to be more profitable.    Disney is set to have another quarterly investors call in August, which will provide an updated number of subscribers and how the ARPU (Average Rate Per User) is increasing within India.  Disney is also trying to raise the overall ARPU for Disney+ subscribers globally, through the launch of its ad-supported tier and price increases.


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Roger Palmer

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. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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