The last quarter of 2022 was rough for Disney’s streaming service, Disney+. According to Variety, Disney+ lost 2.4 millions subscribers to finish off the year, which is the first quarter in which the streaming service has had a net subscriber loss since its inception in 2019.
Bob Iger, who returned as CEO of the company in November following the short tenure of Bob Chapek, announced the numbers regarding Disney+ on Wednesday, saying:
“After a solid first quarter, we are embarking on a significant transformation, one that will maximize the potential of our world-class creative teams and our unparalleled brands and franchises. We believe the work we are doing to reshape our company around creativity, while reducing expenses, will lead to sustained growth and profitability for our streaming business, better position us to weather future disruption and global economic challenges and deliver value for our shareholders.”
It seems that this drop in subscribers may not be canary in the coal mine that many wish it was. Variety says that much of this loss has come due to the end of the Indian Premier League contract that Disney held, disallowing them from showing cricket games. Disney+ saw a gain of 200,000 subscribers in the US and Canada in the same quarter.
Iger also noted that the price increase from $7.99 to $10.99, which was implemented on the streaming service’s lowest subscription level, did not drive away customers like some analysts had feared. He said that this will mark a new era for the service, where it begins to focus on profitability rather than growth:
“We were, as a company, in a global arms race for subscribers. And in our zeal to go after subscribers, I think we might have gotten a bit too aggressive in terms of our promotion, and we are going to take a look at that.”
Disney has found itself in hot water in conservative circles due to its insistence on including “woke” scenes and characters into movies that would otherwise have resonated with the audience. One such example of this is the movie “Lightyear,” which attempted to be a spinoff of the Toy Story series, where a lesbian kissing scene was jammed into the children’s film.
Disney also has released its commitments to “inclusion”, which the New York Post reported on. According to the post, a zoom call was held to discuss new inclusivity movements within the company. One such move, was to ensure that 50% of all recurring characters in the Disney universe are members of “underrepresented groups.”
Disney diversity and inclusion manager Vivian Ware even went so far as to praise this decision:
“Last summer we removed all gendered greetings in relationship to our live spiels. So, we no longer say ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls … It’s hello everyone or hello friends.”
So, while this most recent drop in subscriber count may have been less of a culture shift than was previously hoped, it is clear that Disney is moving further away from creating entertaining content in favor of pushing their ideologies on audiences. That decision rarely plays out well.
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