The Disney+ streaming service loses 4 million subscribers in the first quarter

  • by Annabelle Liang
  • Business reporter

image source, Getty Images

Disney says its main streaming service lost 4 million subscribers in the first three months of the year amid a broader cost-cutting campaign.

At the same time, Disney+ has cut its losses by $400m (£316.5m).

The home of Mickey Mouse, the Star Wars franchise and Marvel movies are under pressure to make the streaming business profitable as the traditional film and TV market shrinks.

Shares in the company fell about 5% in after-hours trading in New York.

Most of the subscriber losses came from service Hotstar in Asia, which lost broadcast rights to Indian cricket matches last year.

Disney+ also lost about 300,000 customers in the US and Canada after the subscription price hike.

It comes as Disney’s streaming business cut its operating loss to $659 million for the first three months of this year. This was down from $1.1 billion in the previous quarter.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said The improved financial performance reflects “the strategic changes we’re making across the company to realign Disney for sustainable growth and success.”

Earlier this year, the entertainment giant reported its first drop in subscriber numbers and announced plans to cut 7,000 jobs.

The latest announcement comes after thousands of Hollywood writers and screenwriters last week held their first strike in 15 years.

They are calling for better wages and working conditions because the move to broadcasting has upended the traditional television and film industries.

On Wednesday, Disney’s chief financial officer, Christine McCarthy, declined to say how much the latest blow has cost the company.

The strike has already shut down many Disney projects, including those slated to run on Disney+.

Disney has poured billions of dollars into its streaming platforms in recent years, transforming it from a company rooted in traditional TV, movies and theme parks into one of the major players in the streaming industry.

It now has a total of more than 231 million subscriptions across its three streaming platforms, which also includes sports-focused ESPN+ and broader entertainment site Hulu.

Disney+ has approximately 158 million subscribers worldwide, though that’s still behind rival Netflix’s 232.5 subscribers.

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