It’s a sign of how tough things are in the streaming world that Disney+ could lose more than half a billion dollars over the last three months — and it’s good news.
Good? Yes, in light of the fact that Disney’s flagship streaming service lose more than a billion bucks a year earlier.
Even so, the $512 million lost in the second quarter underlines the challenges faced by Team Mickey in competing for subscribers in an ever-tightening market.
Disney’s direct-to-consumer division, which includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, has lost more than $10 billion since late 2019, when Disney+ debuted.
Disney on Wednesday said it’s raising prices for the ad-free versions of Disney+ and Hulu by more than 20% each.
Beginning in October, the ad-free version of Disney+ will cost $14 — double the price when the service was unveiled.
The ad-free version of Hulu will cost $18, up from the current $15, making it more expensive than the ad-free version of Netflix.
A crackdown on password sharing is in the works as well.
Disney+ subscribers declined in North America and worldwide in the most recent quarter as consumers grow pickier about which services to subscribe to amid rising economic uncertainty.
CEO Bob Iger put a brave face on the setbacks by citing progress made in controlling costs, including cuts to programming and thousands of layoffs.
“In the eight months since my return, these important changes are creating a more cost effective, coordinated and streamlined approach to our operations,” he said in a statement. “While there is still more to do, I’m incredibly confident in Disney’s long-term trajectory.”
Be that as it may, Disney reportedly is looking into selling a stake in ESPN as the sports network prepares to offer a streaming service.
ESPN is also partnering with a bookie for an ESPN-branded gambling service.
Would that have made Walt happy? Don’t bet on it.