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Disney+ to fall well short of its own subscriber target

Walt Disney Co expects to fall tens of millions of subscribers short of its last publicly stated 2024 target for the Disney+ streaming service, according to people familiar with the matter.

The goal of 215 million to 245 million subscribers was set in August 2022 by then-CEO Bob Chapek. In February, returning CEO Bob Iger said Disney would no longer provide subscriber forecasts, matching a decision at Netflix.

Disney+ has been losing customers to price increases, as well as collapsing demand in India after the company failed to win cricket streaming rights. That’s led management to conclude it will fall short of those earlier numbers, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal targets.

Wall Street’s focus in the past year has shifted from sign-up numbers at online video platforms to profitability, and Disney has narrowed its losses in its streaming division by hundreds of millions of dollars in recent quarters.

Price increases have helped. Iger has raised the price of Disney+ since its launch in 2019 as part of an effort to reach profitability in the streaming business as early as next year.

The company is still seeking to increase customers to Disney+. A deal announced this week with Charter Communications, the second largest US cable provider, will package Disney+ with the Spectrum TV service, adding millions of new customers. Disney will receive a reduced, wholesale price for those subscribers.

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In 2020, it set a target for as many as 260 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024 for Disney+ and the Hotstar product in India, before lowering the target last year.  — Thomas Buckley and Lucas Shaw, (c) 2023 Bloomberg LP

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