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Disney+ Hotstar India subscriber number stabilises

Estimates are that it accounts for 26 million subs; with ARPUs of around $1.34

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MUMBAI: Disney+ Hotstar’s growth appears to have plateaued in India. As of Q1 ended 2 January 2021, the streaming service continued to account for 30 per cent of Disney+ overall subscriber count of 94.9 million as announced by the company this morning. That works out to 28.47 million subs. But this also includes 2.5 million subs (as of late January 2021) in Indonesia where it launched in September. The figures for Indian sub base thus net up to anywhere between 25 million to 25.97 million. Disney had put the figure at around 26 million on 2 December during its investor day conference call.

Average revenue per user for Disney+ was at $5.37 for the quarter excluding Disney+ Hotstar, while it was $4.03 per sub, giving an average of $1.34 per sub for the Asian service. In Indonesia, Disney+Hotstar has a strong partnership with telco Telekomsel which is yielding between $0.80 and $1.1 per sub, as against $1.1 to $2.6 for direct subs. In India, the streamer is priced at Rs 299 per annum for it VIP service, and Rs 1,499 for Premium. It has strong partnerships with telco Jio as well as Vodafone-Idea.

The numbers are likely to ramp up come the next two quarters. Reason: launches are expected in Malaysia and the new season of the IPL is expected to attract new subs.

The Walt Disney Co senior executive vice president CFO Christine Mcarthy said that efforts were on to manage churn, and what’s helping is the annual plans which are being offered making them attractive to users.

“Yes, cricket is an important part of our diversified programming strategy but we have local content and the IPL did offer a bump up but we have diversified content for them too which will help mitigate any churn,” she said on the investor call for Q1 2021 today.

“We believe the strategic actions we’re taking to transform our company will fuel our growth and enhance shareholder value, as demonstrated by the incredible strides we’ve made in our DTC business, reaching more than 146 million total paid subscriptions across our streaming services at the end of the quarter,” said CEO Bob Chapek. “We’re confident that, with our robust pipeline of exceptional, high-quality content and the upcoming launch of our new Star-branded international general entertainment offering, we are well-positioned to achieve even greater success going forward.”

The company said it now has more than 146 million total paid subscribers across its streaming services as of the end of the first quarter. ESPN+ accounted for 12.1 million subs, and Hulu for 39.4 million subs.

Revenue for Disney’s direct-to-consumer business grew 73 per cent  compared with the same quarter the previous year, to $3.5 billion and operating loss decreased from $1.1 billion to $466 million. That improved performance helped to offset losses in other segments affected by the pandemic.

The media and entertainment behemoth reported revenues of $16.24 billion for the quarter as against $20.87 billion in the previous year’s corresponding quarter. Its diluted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations for the quarter decreased 98 per cent  to $0.02 from $1.17 in the prior-year quarter. Excluding certain items, diluted EPS for the quarter decreased 79 per cent  to $0.32 from $1.53 in the prior-year quarter. Analysts had predicted a negative EPS and slower revenue growth.   

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