Disney+ Lost More Than 1 Million Subscribers After October Price Hike

Following an October 12 price increase, the core Disney+ streaming service lost 1.3 million subscribers, the company revealed on Wednesday. Not including India’s Hotstar, Disney+ ended the 2023 calendar year with 111.3 million subscribers.

Though subscriber numbers decreased, the rate increase at ad-free grew Disney+ ARPU (average revenue per user) by 14 cents. Growth was even greater in the U.S. and Canada, where the ARPU rose by 25 cents to $8.15. For Disney, October-December represented the first fiscal quarter of 2024.

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Hulu, which was also subject to a rate increase on its own ad-free tier, managed to add some members in the quarter. Its ARPU also increased; the SVOD-only version grew its revenue per subscriber. Hulu now has 49.7 million subs.

Like Hulu, Disney+ Hotstar membership rose by 2 percent in the quarter. The Hotstar service now has 38.3 million subscribers; ESPN+ has 25.2 million subs.

One quarter earlier (Q4 2023, for Disney), the core Disney+ service added 6.9 million subs. Disney on Wednesday said it expects Disney+ (not including Hotstar) to add between 5.5 and 6 million subs from January to March.

Disney’s direct-to-consumer business lost a total of $138 million from October to December. It lost $387 million in the previous quarter, so things are certainly improving. Disney CEO Bob Iger has previously said Disney+ will be profitable by the final quarter of the company’s fiscal 2024, a position the company reiterated on Wednesday.

All told, Disney’s total revenue for the December quarter was $23.5 billion. The company’s diluted earnings per share was $1.22. Both of those easily surpassed Wall Street’s expectations.

Also on Wednesday, Iger announced a surprise “Moana 2” animated movie. What was once intended to be a Disney+ series will be retooled as a sequel to the original “Moana.” The cast has yet to be announced. The new animated film will not nullify the live-action “Moana” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, set for a 2025 theatrical release.

“The Marvels” and “Wish” both hit theaters during the reported quarter, and neither performed well — especially “The Marvels.” On the series end of things, “Loki” Season 2 premiered during the quarter, returning to Nielsen’s Top 10 streaming lists.

Due to last year’s writers and actors strikes, Disney’s theatrical slate originally intended for the current quarter has been delayed. The company is filling screens with the belated theatrical debuts of COVID-era Pixar animated flicks “Soul,” “Turning Red,” and “Luca,” which were (or became) streaming exclusives.

We’re still awaiting a final dollar figure that Disney owes Comcast to attain full ownership of Hulu. Disney cut an initial check north of $8 billion for Comcast’s share, which was one-third. Disney previously acquired Fox’s one-third share in a takeover that included most of Fox’s assets.

On Tuesday, Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery announced a new joint venture, a streaming service focused on sports. The presently unnamed (and unpriced) service will launch in the fall.

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