Disney CEO Bob Iger Affirms Commitment To Indian Market Despite Operational Challenges

Amid the talk around Disney’s operations in India, CEO Bob Iger has put the rumours to rest, affirming the media giant’s foothold in the burgeoning Indian market. Amidst talks of Disney’s potential retreat due to financial drains, Iger clarified in an earnings call that their traditional TV business in India isn’t just surviving; it’s profitable.

What Happened? Iger acknowledged the hurdles in parts of the business but remained optimistic, stating, “Our linear business in India is actually doing quite well — it’s making money. We’re aware of the challenges, yet we’re exploring ways to fortify our presence. India’s massive population makes it a market we can’t ignore. We’re strategizing to enhance our performance and, in turn, our profits, especially in advertising where linear is showing unexpected resilience.”

Disney+ Hotstar’s subscriber base saw a slight dip to 3.76 crore in the fourth quarter, a 7% decrease from the previous quarter’s 4.04 crore. Despite this, Disney’s overall revenue for the quarter was a robust $21.24 billion (₹1.76 lakh crore), a step up from last year’s $20.1 billion (₹1.67 lakh crore), with annual figures also climbing by 7%.

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The call highlighted a significant jump in operating income to $2.9 billion (₹24,146 crore), up by $1.4 billion (₹11,657 crore) year-on-year. The entertainment titan’s revenue from TV networks, streaming services, and content sales/licensing nudged up by 2%, reaching $9.5 billion (₹79,104 crore).

Possible need for restructuring? While Disney’s earnings exceeded forecasts, thanks to ESPN+ and their flourishing theme parks, a slump in advertising revenue, particularly from their ABC Network, put pressure on their financials. Iger had hinted at possibly selling off some TV assets.

The report also noted a 9% dip in revenue from linear networks in the entertainment sector for the quarter. Specifically, revenue from Star India in sports dropped to $92 million, with operating income also falling by 29%.

Steady at $3.9 billion (₹32,476 crore), the sports segment’s revenue held its ground compared to the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, Disney+ welcomed 7 million new subscribers, pushing the total to 150.2 million, including Hotstar, and the streaming division saw reduced losses year-over-year.

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