The Disney+ streaming service lost 4 million subscribers in the first quarter
  • By Annabelle Liang
  • Business Correspondent

image source, Good pictures

Disney says its flagship streaming service lost 4 million subscribers in the first three months of the year amid a broader cost-cutting drive.

Meanwhile the Disney+ platform narrowed its loss by $400m (£316.5m).

Mickey Mouse, the Star Wars franchise and home of the Marvel movies, is under pressure to make its streaming business profitable as the traditional film and television market shrinks.

Shares of the company fell about 5% in after-hours trading in New York.

Most of the subscriber losses came from its Hotstar service in Asia, where it lost streaming rights to Indian cricket matches last year.

Disney+ lost about 300,000 customers in the US and Canada after raising subscription prices.

It comes as Disney’s streaming business narrowed its operating loss to $659m in the first three months of the year. This was up from $1.1 billion in the previous quarter.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said The improved financial performance reflects “the strategic changes we are making across the company to reposition Disney for sustainable growth and success.”

Earlier this year, the entertainment giant reported its first falling subscriber numbers and announced plans to cut 7,000 jobs.

The latest announcement comes after thousands of Hollywood TV and film screenwriters staged their first strike in 15 years last week.

As the shift to streaming has upended the traditional TV and film industry, they are calling for better wages and working conditions.

The last writers’ strike was in 2007. It lasted 100 days and cost the industry an estimated $2bn.

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On Wednesday, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy declined to release a figure on how much the latest strike is costing the company.

The walkout has already shut down several Disney projects, including those slated to run on Disney+.

Disney has poured billions of dollars into its streaming platforms in recent years, transforming it from a company rooted in traditional TV, movies and theme parks to one of the major players in the streaming industry.

It now has more than 231 million total subscriptions across its three streaming platforms, which also include sports-focused ESPN+ and the broader entertainment platform Hulu.

Disney+ has 158 million subscribers worldwide, though it lags behind rival Netflix’s 232.5 subscribers.

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