Bob Iger Admits Disney+ Crushed by Illegal Streaming

in Disney, Movies & TV

Bob iger, the ceo of disney, with a focused expression, superimposed on a blue background next to the disney+ logo in white.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney CEO Bob Iger has revealed that Disney+ has lost hundreds of millions of dollars a year since it first launched, and now, even illegal pirate sites are more popular than the streaming service.

Bob Chapek and Bob Iger with the Disney logo
Credit: Inside the Magic

Bob Iger on Disney+: “Losses Were Around $4 Billion a Year”

When Disney+ was launched in 2019, it was heavily promoted as the streaming service that could finally go toe-to-toe with Netflix. The home of Stranger Things and Wednesday has long been the dominant force in the streaming wars, but Disney’s massive catalog of animation, live-action, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Indiana Jones, and more was real competition. Combined with the initial rock-bottom subscription price, Disney+ looked poised to take over the streaming content market.

Close-up image of a Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Credit: Lucasfilm

That hasn’t exactly panned out. Financial disclosures have revealed that Disney+ has not come close to making a profit for the company, a fact that apparently has frustrated Bob Iger to no end. According to Forbes, the Walt Disney Company has spent a mindblowing $11 billion on the streaming service and has not made a return on investment in the five years since it premiered. As an indication of the kind of management that is enraging Iger, $500 million went to Secret Invasion, Moon Knight, and Loki Season 2; only one of those MCU shows was considered at all successful, while Secret Invasion received the worst viewership numbers of any Disney+ Marvel series to date.

Netflix currently has over 260 million subscribers, far outstripping Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Max. The Disney CEO has openly admitted to looking toward Netflix for new strategies and that his own company needs to emulate the technology of the rival streamer if it has any hope of surviving.

Netflix logo superimposed over the planet Earth
Credit: Netflix/Inside the Magic

Related: Bob Iger’s Disney Confirms ‘Snow White’ Future After Scrapping Movie’s Release

Bob Iger recently told CNBC’s Squawk on the Street that Disney+ needed a fast turnaround, “We ended up losing a lot of money on that, more so than we expected initially. Part of that was because we were chasing sub[scriber] growth and not as focused as we needed to be on the bottom line…the losses were around $4 billion a year. It was clear that that was not sustainable and not acceptable, and the goal was first, let’s reduce those losses.”

Disney is doing everything it can to try to get Disney+ on the road to literally any kind of profit, including merging the service with both Hulu (for its R-rated content) and ESPN+ (for the massive sports market), giving away free six-month subscriptions in partnership with Verizon, and launching 24-hour streaming channels within the app.

Bob Iger standing by an archway with a view of a fairytale castle in the background.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Unfortunately, it does not seem to be working, and reports indicate that Disney+ is struggling to compete with pirate streaming sites, let alone Netflix and Max.

Disney+ Vs. Piracy

Disney+ is one of the more popular legitimate streaming services on the market despite nearly doubling its subscription prices and constantly pushing for more ads. However, pirate sites like FMovies, which offer illegal streaming content worldwide, dwarf its popularity.

FMovies is one of the most popular pirate streaming services in the world despite having extremely shaky legal status due to issues of copyright infringement. As one might imagine, major studios like Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Amazon Studios are not happy about their movies and films being made available by FMovies and have launched legal action in numerous countries, but to little avail. FMovies is currently banned in Australia, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, but remains available even in those countries due to technological loopholes like VPNs.

Bob Iger against the Disney logo with broken glass overlay
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: “Egotistical” Bob Iger Needs To Move On from Disney, “No One’s Irreplaceable.”

Disney has reason to fear FMovies. The pirate service is in the top ten most visited streaming sites in the United States, far outstripping the popularity of Disney+ (per Gearrice). Data shows that FMovies had a staggering 190 million visitors in March 2024 alone, many of them from America; as a rough comparison, Disney+ had an estimated 146 million subscribers worldwide in the first quarter of the year. It also bears mentioning that Disney+ has been losing subscribers as consistently as it has lost money, with 22 million customers dropping the service since 2022.

Bob Iger can pump billions more into Disney+ to try to make it profitable, but he’s going to have a hard time competing against a free service, even an illegal one.

Do you think Disney+ can compete against pirate sites like FMovies? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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