Is Disney Losing The Streaming War To India's Richest Man? Losing 8M Subscribers Is No Joke

Walt Disney Co‘s DIS Disney+ Hotstar is bearing the brunt as Reliance Industries, owned and led by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, amped up its game against global streaming giants with its subsidiary JioCinema.

What Happened: Data obtained by CNBC-TV18 earlier this week showed that most of the decline in Disney’s subscribers in the quarter ending March 31 came from Disney's India arm, which experienced an 8% decline in membership.

The India unit lost massive 8.4 million subscribers over the last six months.

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On Wednesday, Disney reported that Disney Plus subscribers fell for the second straight quarter. The total number of subscribers to Disney Plus fell to 157.8 million. The global giant lost $659 million in its streaming unit. India’s subscriber base reduced by 4.6 million between December and April, leading to a total subscriber count of 52.9 million.

The Ambani Effect: The drop in subscribers coincided with two significant absences from the platform — the HBO content and the Indian Premier League. 

Last year, Disney+ Hotstar lost the bid to broadcast the IPL to Viacom18, a company owned by RIL. The analysts had then estimated it could cost the streaming a loss of 15-25 million subscribers.

JioCinema currently holds streaming rights to the IPL, and during the opening weekend of the tournament in April, the streaming platform amassed over 1.47 billion video views.

See Also: What Is Reliance Jio Share Price

Disney+ Hotstar also recently terminated its partnership with HBO, resulting in the unavailability of several popular shows such as Game of Thrones, Succession, and others. Meanwhile, RIL partnered with Warner Bros Discovery to bring those Hollywood shows onto its streaming platform. 

The billionaire's conglomerate isn't stopping and has other plans in the pipeline as it seeks to pit JioCinema against major international companies like Walt Disney, Sony Group Corp SONY and Netflix Inc NFLX in the rapidly developing Indian market.

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