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Hotstar sheds 3.8 mn subscribers in Dec quarter
Disney+ Hotstar, which had 61.3 million subscribers at the end of October 2022, shed a few million of them in the last two months of the year. Overall, in the December quarter, the platform saw a drop of 6 percent or 3.8 million subscribers to 57.5 million. The user exodus from Hotstar also contributed to a net loss of 2.4 million subscribers globally for Disney+, the streaming major’s first decline in two years since launch.
Interestingly, The Walt Disney Company had predicted this fall in Hotstar subscribers due to the absence of IPL on the platform. “At Disney+ Hotstar, we are currently expecting that subscribers will decline in Q1 due to the absence of the IPL, but we do expect to see some stabilization in Q2,” Disney CFO Christine McCarthy had said in the last earnings call.
Earlier in 2022, Mukesh Ambani-led Viacom18 pipped Hotstar to win the digital streaming rights of the most coveted cricket league in the world from 2023 to 2027. IPL remains the premier money spinner in India’s OTT landscape, with its digital viewership projected to cross 523 million in FY23, per a FICCI-EY report. Viacom18 has announced that it will stream IPL for free on its JioCinema platform (which also streamed the FIFA World Cup).
In earlier conversations with Business Today, media analysts had warned of Disney+ Hotstar’s impending challenges after it lost IPL’s streaming rights. “Subscriptions may drop sharply, with people potentially moving to Voot or Jio to watch IPL,” Karan Taurani, SVP at Elara Capital, had told Business Today.
According to Taurani, Hotstar could lose at least 30-40 percent of its paid subscribers until the June quarter as people’s subscriptions expire (and they don’t renew). This is pretty much in line with Disney’s own estimates. “IPL drives 60-65 percent of Hotstar numbers. If they don’t replenish it with new cricket rights, the drop will be sharper,” the analyst explained.
Disney shared in its latest earnings statement that its sequential decline in subscribers was caused entirely by the performance of Disney+ Hotstar. Overall, Disney+ ended 2022 with 161.8 million subscribers globally, second only to Netflix’s 231 million subscribers. BusinessToday
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