Disney ‘would like to stay’ in India despite Hotstar losses: CEO Bob Iger

Disney aims to remain in Indian market, despite challenges faced by Hotstar, its streaming service.

Disney's Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger(REUTERS)
Disney’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger(REUTERS)

Chief executive Bob Iger said on Wednesday that Disney “would like to stay” in India and is actively exploring options, Mint reported.

“In India, our linear business actually does quite well. It’s making money. But we know that other parts of that business are challenging for us and… we are looking. I’ve said this before… we’re considering our options there. We have an opportunity to strengthen our hand,” Iger said during an earnings call.

While Hotstar grappled with a loss of 28 lakh subscribers in the last quarter, bringing the total loss to about 2.3 crore in a year, Disney+ globally added nearly 70 lakh subscribers, surpassing 15 crore, including Hotstar.

Despite challenges in the streaming sector, Disney’s cable TV business in India remains profitable.

What keeps Hotstar hopeful?

A glimmer of hope for Disney lies in the expectation of a surge in Hotstar’s subscriber count in the next quarter, currently standing at 3.76 crore subscribers.

Iger expressed the importance of the Indian market, acknowledging its vast population, and emphasised the company’s desire to both stay and enhance its performance.

Hotstar has seen a rebound, attracting back numerous subscribers and non-paying users, during the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup. It has been offering free streaming on mobile devices.

The announcement followed Reliance-backed JioCinema which got huge success by offering free access to its platform during the Indian Premier League (IPL) and FIFA World Cup.

Partnership and loss mitigation measures ahead

There are also indications of a potential deal with Reliance to sell the India business, aiming to mitigate losses.

Iger revealed plans to cut an additional $2 billion in costs to narrow streaming losses, projecting streaming profitability in about a year.

“The thorough restructuring of our company has enabled tremendous efficiencies and we’re on track to achieve roughly $7.5 billion in cost reductions, which is approximately $2 billion more than what we targeted earlier this year. Our new structure also enabled us to greatly enhance our effectiveness, particularly in streaming, where we’ve created a more unified, cohesive and highly coordinated approach to marketing, pricing and programming,” Iger said during the call.

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