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The Walt Disney Co’s Q4 gains: IPL boosts Disney+Hotstar subs

It contributes 25 per cent of Disney+ overall subscriber base of 73.7 million

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KOLKATA: It has been only one year since Disney+ entered the streaming war but the growth has been phenomenal. The streaming service from The Walt Disney Company (Disney) has reached 73.7 million subscribers as of 3 October. Disney+Hotstar has pushed the growth contributing around 25 per cent of the global subscribers which effectively makes for around 19 million subscribers.

“Disney+ ended Q4 with 73.7 million paid subscribers or an increase of over 16 million subscribers versus Q3. Disney+ Hotstar subscriber additions were the largest contributor to this increase, driven by the start of the delayed IPL season. Disney+ Hotstar subscribers now account for a little over a quarter of our global subscriber base. Disney+ overall ARPU this quarter was $4.52. However, excluding Disney+ Hotstar, it was $5.30,” Disney senior executive vice president and chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said in an earnings call.

This means that Disney+Hotstar’s ARPU is at about 78 cents or around Rs 58.

Disney+ entered India coupling with its existing service Hotstar, which the mouse house  took over as a part of its Twenty First  Century Fox acquisition in April. The rebranded service Disney+Hotstar has  signed up around 19 million subscribers in six months which is no small feat, especially in a crowded market like India.

Originally, Disney planned the launch in March with the beginning of IPL 2020. Unfortunately, the Covid2019 crisis forced the company to change the plan. Although it could not exploit the unparalleled popularity of IPL at its launch, it is reaping the benefits now. Moreover, the timing of launch may have also worked in its favour as the lockdown has massively boosted the OTT ecosystem.

Disney+Hotstar contributed around 15 per cent of Disney+ overall subscriber base in Q3. The service can grow its base faster as it has expanded its footprint to Indonesia in September. The company also announced its debut in Singapore on 1 November

The giant media conglomerate is gradually focusing more on direct-to-consumer (DTC) business making up for its late entry in the game. “We are going to continue to ramp up our investment in DTC and we will be heavily tilting the scale from our linear networks over to our DTC business as we see it as a primary catalyst for growth,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek commented.

Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international segment revenue grew 41 per cent to $4.9 billion in Q4, while segment operating loss declined from $751 million to $580 million, as a result of better results at Hulu and ESPN Plus.

“The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business, which is key to the future of our company, and on this anniversary of the launch of Disney+ we’re pleased to report that, as of the end of the fourth quarter, the service had more than 73 million paid subscribers – far surpassing our expectations in just its first year,” Chapek said.

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