Disney+ Hemorrhaging Subscribers, Desperately Offering Free Service

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Nervous Mickey Mouse holding his hands over his mouth.

Credit: Disney

Disney+ is losing the streaming wars.

Credit: Inside the Magic

The streaming service market has gotten increasingly competitive in the last several years, with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Max (formerly HBO Max), Paramount+, Peacock, Apple TV+, and a hundred smaller platforms struggling to maintain subscriber bases.

As such, it seems that the Walt Disney Company realizes it needs to do something to try to keep up with the other streaming services, namely, give away free services.

However, the Walt Disney Company is only doing this in one country right now: India.

Related: Disney Tried to Save Money by Purging Streaming Titles, Loses $1.5 Billion Instead

Disney+ Hotstar Streaming

India has become one of the most contentious streaming markets in the world for a pretty basic reason. The country recently surpassed China as the world’s most populous nation, and companies like Disney, Amazon, and Comcast see that as a plentiful resource for new, profitable subscribers.

Credit: Disney

In fact, Comcast and Disney are currently locked in a battle over who will dominate the market there, but Disney’s real concern is making sure that its Disney Hotstar service does not flounder and get beaten by Netflix in yet another market.

Per Deadline, the Disney Hotstar service is the House of Mouse’s biggest service in terms of users but has been hemorrhaging subscribers ever since it lost streaming rights to the Indian Premier League Cricket (IPL) to JioCinema, a mega-company owned by Reliance Jio, James Murdoch, Bodhi Tree Systems, and yet another of Disney’s domestic rivals, Paramount Global.

In order to combat that, Disney Hotstar will begin streaming free live cricket matches in India on smartphones and tablets beginning August 30. Crucially, the company will also stream the World Cup for free in India, which is, not coincidentally, hosting the event this year.

Indian team playing Cricket
Credit: Flickr/It’s No Game

Free Services for Some, Increased Prices for Others

Disney also recently lowered prices for Disney Hotstar, further showing the company’s intense determination to lock down subscribers in India at all costs.

Related: Disney Removes Failed ‘Lightyear’ Film From Streaming Platform

However, at the same time as Disney lowers costs for Disney Hotstar and provides free sports coverage in India, it is raising the price of Disney+ in the United States to nearly double its initial subscription cost. The company is also slashing budgets across the company, removing content from the streaming service, and even refusing to release new content for (allegedly) tax benefits.

The Walt Disney Company has seen several years of declining box office returns and struggles to keep one of the biggest media companies in the world profitable, so this push to cut costs in India in hopes of maybe making a profit elsewhere seems somewhat desperate. No wonder CEO Bob Iger is feeling the pressure.

Do you think Disney should be offering free services in some countries and not others? Let us know in the comments below!


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