Disney to cut Streaming Targets for its Subscribers

Disney+ to cut Streaming Targets for its Subscribers | Mr. Business Magazine

When Disney+ made its grand debut in 2019, the entertainment powerhouse had ambitious plans for global domination. During an Investor’s Day event, Disney’s CFO, Christine McCarthy, boldly proclaimed their target of accumulating a subscriber base ranging from 60 to 90 million by the year 2024. However, little did they know that their streaming service would experience a meteoric rise, thanks in part to the pandemic.

The onset of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns saw a surge in demand for streaming content, propelling Disney+ to remarkable success. Subscriptions soared far beyond the initial projections, causing Disney to revise its goals. In 2020, during another Investor Day event, the company set a new target of reaching between 230 million and 260 million subscribers by 2024. The streaming service had quickly become a juggernaut in the industry.

Stumbling Blocks and Altered Strategies

Yet, as the world gradually returned to normalcy post-pandemic, Disney’s subscriber growth began to plateau. Wall Street’s focus shifted from amassing subscribers to achieving profitability, prompting Disney CEO Bob Chapek to recalibrate their goals. In a significant move, Chapek announced a revised target range of 215 million to 245 million subscribers.

However, the plot thickened when Disney’s former CEO, Bob Iger, returned to the helm. Taking a page out of Netflix’s playbook, Iger declared that Disney would no longer provide subscriber forecasts. A pivotal reason behind this shift was the loss of broadcasting rights to the Indian Premiere League (IPL) cricket, which was expected to result in the loss of over 20 million subscribers in India alone. This was a substantial blow, as Disney+ Hotstar subscribers in India generated just a fraction of the revenue compared to “core” Disney+ subscribers. Disney’s decision not to pursue IPL rights saved them billions of dollars.

Disney+ Evolving Strategy for Sustainability

With a general slowdown in acquiring new subscribers and uncertainty looming, reports from Bloomberg suggest that Disney might fall significantly short of its previously stated 2024 target. The shift in focus on profitability rather than subscriber numbers has prompted Disney to make sweeping changes. These include streamlining content to reduce costs, raising subscription prices, and introducing an ad-supported tier to diversify revenue streams.

Recent efforts to attract new subscribers include discounted promotions and deals with cable providers like Charter Communications, offering Disney+ to their subscribers at a reduced rate. Expectations of more cable network partnerships, including ad-supported Disney+ bundles, are on the horizon. Additionally, Disney’s planned merger of Hulu with Disney+ in the United States, pending the completion of the Comcast deal, aims to boost ad revenue, cut costs, and reduce subscriber churn.

Disney’s latest quarterly results in August revealed a dip in Disney+ subscribers, dropping from 164.2 million to 146.1 million after the loss of IPL Cricket rights in India.

As the end of the financial year approaches, Disney seems to be setting realistic expectations for shareholders and Wall Street. The primary objective for Disney+ is no longer achieving a specific subscriber count but rather ensuring profitability by the end of 2024. This shift reflects the evolving landscape of the streaming industry and Disney’s commitment to adapt and thrive in this competitive arena.

Also read: 7 ways to Attract More Online Customers during the Covid-19 outbreak

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