Disney’s Streaming Business Was Stable in Q3 – Except for India

Hulu grew and Disney+ shrank slightly in the U.S. while Hotstar lost 12.5 million subscribers

Disney+ app
Getty Images

Disney’s streaming business remained stable in the third quarter of 2023 — except for Hotstar, Disney’s direct-to-consumer offering in India and parts of Southeast Asia.

While Disney’s mainstream service Hulu, available in the U.S. added 300,000 customers to its subscriber count and Disney+ lost 300,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers, Hotstar lost a whopping 12.5 million subscribers this quarter, according to the entertainment giant’s earnings release issued Wednesday.

Disney reported a total Hotstar subscriber base of 52.9 million at the beginning of April, falling to 40.4 million by July 1, a 23.6% decrease. From the second quarter to the third quarter of 2023, the average monthly revenue per paid subscriber for Hotstar remained steady at $0.59.

The subscriber losses at Disney+ Hotstar follow a July report that Disney was exploring its options to sell or find a joint venture for its business in India, which includes Hotstar and Star India.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney has had engaged in discussions with at least one bank to determine a path forward to grow its TV and digital business in India, with the potential of sharing some of the cost with a partner. At the time, individuals familiar with the matter told the Journal that Hotstar is expected to lose 8 million to 10 million subscribers in the third quarter, which was exceeded as it lost 12.5 subscribers.

The conglomerate’s direct-to-consumer revenue increased 9% to total $5.5 billion, while operating loss decreased to $0.5 billion from a loss of $1.1 billion, per the release, due to a “lower loss at Disney+ [and] higher operating income at Hulu and a lower loss at ESPN+.”

The earnings report added that improvement at Disney+ was “due to higher subscription revenue and a decrease in marketing costs, partially offset by higher programming and production costs and lower advertising revenue.”