10 MAY 2023

Disney+ loses subscribers for the second straight quarter

In its second quarter earnings report, The Walt Disney Company revealed that Disney+ saw a decrease in subscribers for the second straight quarter – this time to 157.8 million from 161.8 million.

10 MAY 2023

Robert A. Iger

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The Walt Disney Company reported earnings for its second quarter ended April 1, 2023, and revealed that its flagship streaming service, Disney+, saw a decrease in subscribers for the second straight quarter – this time to 157.8 million from 161.8 million, a 2% drop quarter-over-quarter. Nevertheless, the company managed to narrow its streaming business losses by US$400 million, down 26% year-over-year.

This new drop in subscriptions was primarily driven by a 4.6 million sequential decline at Disney+ Hotstar, the version of the service offered in India and parts of Southeast Asia. Last year, the group lost streaming rights to Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches, which is one of the most popular sports in the country.

In the United States and Canada, Disney+ lost about 300.000 subscribers, reaching 46.3 million. At the same time, it added nearly 1 million in international markets excluding Disney+ Hotstar. Meanwhile, Hulu gained 200.000 in the period to stand at 48.2 million, and ESPN+ increased by 400.000 to 25.3 million.

Financially speaking, the company’s revenues for the quarter and six months grew 13% and 10%, respectively. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations for the quarter increased to US$0.69 from US$0.26 in the prior-year quarter. Excluding certain items, diluted EPS for the quarter decreased to US$0.93 from US$1.08 in the prior year quarter.

“We are pleased with our accomplishments this quarter, including the improved financial performance of our streaming business, which reflect the strategic changes we have been making throughout the company to realign Disney for sustained growth and success. From movies to television, to sports, news, and our theme parks, we continue to deliver for consumers, while establishing a more efficient, coordinated, and streamlined approach to our operations,”  said Robert A. Iger, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company.


During the earnings call, Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at The Walt Disney Company, announced the group is in the process of reviewing the content on its direct-to-consumer services to align with the strategic changes in its approach to content curation, and that it will be removing certain content from its streaming platforms.

According to McCarthy, in the third quarter The Walt Disney Company expects a writedown of US$1.5 billion or US$1.8 billion from removing the content. “Going forward, we intend to produce lower volumes of content in alignment with this strategic shift,”  the executive added.


According to Parrot Analytics, The Walt Disney Company must continue boosting the ad-supported tier of Disney+ to reignite subscription growth and alternative revenue sources, wrestle with disappointed Disney+ Hotstar users in the high-upside Asia Pacific region and determine a future course of action with Hulu.

At the same time, it must further re-establish strong theatrical windows to maximize revenue, stave off the ongoing decline of linear television and hope the ongoing writer’s strike ends before impacting its content pipeline following massive disruption from the early pandemic, Parrot noted.

“Overall, it remains to be seen just how far family-friendly franchise power can take Disney+ without the aid of more expansive programming. The service lost 2.4 million global subscribers last quarter while growth in United States and Canada has largely plateaued,”  Parrot Analytics said in its latest report.

On the bright side, however, is the fact that Disney owns 23 of the 25 most in-demand series on Disney+ in the first quarter of 2023, representing an advantage over rivals both in original development and prospective licensing opportunities moving forward, Parrot pointed out. Conversely, less than 10 of the 25 most in-demand series on Hulu last quarter were owned in-house, adding another layer to the debate between keeping or selling the US based streamer.